Lessons from the Marsella decision

Understanding how Trustee powers apply when they have discretion to pay a death benefit

The decision of the case of Marcella -v- Wareham was handed down by the Full Court of the Supreme Court of Victoria recently, with this decision providing some critical reminders to advisers and their SMSF clients about implications of when a BDBN is invalid (or non-binding). Where discretion to pay a deceased member's death benefit exists, what steps must a trustee take when exercising that discretion.

In this upcoming free webinar, we go 'under the hood' of this decision, where Aaron Dunn will be joined by lawyer, Chris Hill and barrister, Bill Orow who both acted for Mrs Wareham in the initial case and appeal.

In this session, we will explore:

  • the key implications from the initial decision and Court of appeal
  • What trustees need to demonstrate in giving real and genuine consideration of the beneficiaries in exercising their discretion
  • Understanding the distinction between potential conflicts and actual conflicts for the distribution of death benefits; and
  • What lessons that can be learnt for advisers working with trustees in managing their SMSF, including the importance of a clearly defined document trail

This is your opportunity to gain key insights into the impact of this decision on future estate planning requirements with your SMSF clients.

Strictly limited numbers to 500.

When: 5 May 2020

Time: 11:00AM AEST

Duration: 60 mins



Aaron Dunn

CEO, Smarter SMSF


Dr. Bill Orow, Barrister

Bill is a practicing member of the Victorian Bar and is an expert in the fields of taxation law and trusts holding a Ph.D as well as an LL.M and has had many works on taxation published.


He practices in Federal and State taxation and has been briefed in matters involving trust disputes, superannuation and taxation (income taxation, GST, stamp duty and land tax).


He has also been briefed in professional negligence matters involving claims against advisors in respect of taxation advice.

Chris Hill, Lawyer

Chris is the director of Hill Legal lawyers and consultants and Inherit Australia. As a lawyer, he practices exclusively in the area of SMSF’s, estate and succession planning, particularly involving blended families and SMSFs. He works with Smarter SMSF to support the preparation of legal documents on the platform.

Chris is an accredited Specialist with the Law Institute of Victoria, an accredited SMSF Specialist adviser with the SMSF Association, a Trusted Estate Practitioner with STEP, a global professional association for practitioners specialising in family inheritance and succession planning and a Certified Financial Planner with the Financial Planners Association.

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