Super and natural disasters: Loss of SMSF documents

16 Jan 2020

Lyn Formica

Head of SMSF Technical & Education Services

The recent bushfires across Australia have impacted many thousands of individuals and small businesses and prompted an outpouring of generosity at levels never before seen in this country. We’ve since had multiple inquiries from clients whose SMSF has been negatively affected or who’d like to use their SMSF monies to help others.

In this article we cover loss of SMSF documents, aimed not just at the recent bushfires but any national disaster across the country.

You might also be interested to read:

Download the complete 'Super and natural disasters' fact sheet.

Loss of SMSF documents

In times of fire, flood, cyclone etc, an SMSF trustee sometimes loses critical fund records. 

What if the original of the fund’s trust deed/change of trustee deed has been lost? 

If an original of the deed cannot be found, a deed of variation and ratification can usually be prepared using details obtained from any copies of the deed held by the fund accountant/administrator/auditor. 

What if other documents prepared on establishment of the fund have been lost? 

If copies of these documents cannot be found on the files of the fund accountant/administrator/auditor, we would usually suggest replacements are prepared of the trustees’ Consent to Act and Trustee Declaration, together with a statutory declaration acknowledging the loss of the originals. 

What if pension commencement documents have been lost?

If copies of these documents cannot be found on the files of the fund accountant/administrator/auditor, we would usually suggest the trustee prepares minutes to confirm the terms of the pension particularly any reversionary beneficiary. 

What if the fund’s accounting/financial records have been lost? 

It is usually possible to recreate records using the files of the fund accountant, administrator, auditor, financial adviser, and/or the ATO sufficient to prepare the current year financial statements/returns. The fund’s auditor may qualify the audit report and/or lodge an Auditor Contravention Report due to loss of prior year records but the ATO is unlikely to take any action given the circumstances [SIS s.35AE, SIS s.35B]. 


Where superannuation is concerned, particularly SMSFs, it is always important to double-check the rules before taking action. Often the law simply doesn’t allow for the outcome trustees and members desire. If you have other questions for us to consider, let us know so that we can cover more scenarios in future articles. 

This article first appeared in Heffron's Super Insights newsletter. It details the latest changes in superannuation legislation, commonly asked questions and answers, and other SMSF related news. It is available to members only. If you want to be the first one to learn about technical updates join our technical support membership.

For more information on how to become a member or, should you wish to make any changes to your existing membership please don’t hesitate to contact us on 1300 172 247 or by email