SMSF Investment Ownership

An SMSF must at all times have the legal ownership of the assets it owns. Trustees need to manage the Fund’s investments separately from the personal investments of the Members.

Fund assets should always be held in the name of either:

  • the Individual Trustees ‘As Trustees For’ the SMSF, or
  • the Corporate Trustee ‘As Trustee For’ the SMSF.


Name used for SMSF Investments

When acquiring assets in a SMSF, the assets must be in the name of the SMSF. To ensure the SMSF has legal ownership over all assets it owns, it is important for the assets to be registered under the name of the Super Fund.

For example, if the SMSF is called Summer Family Super Fund with individual Trustees, all assets should be under the Super Fund’s name as follows:

        Michael Smith & Sarah Smith As Trustees For Summer Family Super Fund

If the Fund has a Corporate Trustee, the Corporate Trustee name should be mentioned:

        Summer Family Pty Ltd As Trustee For Summer Family Super Fund

A shorter version of the name of the asset can simply be:

The Trustee For Summer Family Super Fund, or

Simply (more commonly) only the name of the Super Fund as follows: Summer Family Super Fund


There may be circumstances that prevent you from holding assets using the SMSF’s name. If the investment assets cannot be held in the SMSF’s name, the SMSF must demonstrate that it has the enforceable legal rights of the asset and the ownership by the SMSF should be clearly established. This can be achieved by creating either a Declaration of Trust or a Statutory Declaration to affirm the SMSF has the ultimate ownership of the asset.

Declaration of Trust (click to expand)

When an SMSF owns an asset, it usually owns both the ‘legal’ and ‘beneficial’ interest. A trust is created when the ‘legal’ and ‘beneficial’ ownership is separated. A Declaration of Trust clearly establishes the relationship between legal owners and beneficial (real) owners of the asset. Legal owners act merely as Trustees for and on behalf of the beneficial (real) owners. A Declaration of Trust is suitable when SMSF Trustee has not yet purchased the asset, but intends that they will purchase the asset and will at all times hold the asset on trust for the Beneficiary (SMSF). This agreement declares that the true (beneficial) owner is the SMSF.

When purchasing overseas properties, some countries aren’t familiar dealing with SMSFs. As a result, the property may not be able to be registered under the name of the SMSF. A Declaration of Trust can be established to confirm the title holder of property that is being held for the benefit of the SMSF. The property is placed in a trust, with a trustee overseeing the asset. We charge $950 to set up a Declaration of Trust. Please see our fee schedule for more details. To see our sample Declaration of Trust Deed, please download from here:

Declaration of Trust

Statutory Declaration (click to expand)

A Statutory Declaration is a written statement that a person signs and declares to be true and correct before an authorized witness. By signing it, you agree that the information in it is true, and you can be charged with perjury if the information is false.

For example, if the asset, such as an overseas bank account, is set up under the name of the Trustee and not the Fund, Trustees can sign a Statutory Declaration to affirm the SMSF has the ultimate ownership of the bank account. You can download some sample Statutory Declarations here :

Statutory Declaration template 1 (pdf) Statutory Declaration template 2 (word)

Here is an ATO video to help you understand more on the SMSF ownership:

Trustees should always ensure the SMSF investments adhere to the Investment strategy of the Fund. The Investment Strategy can be amended by the Trustee to reflect their choice of investments. For more information on the SMSF Investment Strategy, please see our website page here.

  • Kavinda

    Hi, I am client of your company and now planing to buy a land in Sri Lanka under my SMSF.

    Just want to double check if I can use a statutory declaration instead of a declaration of trust (bare trust) to show the connection of the ownership of the overseas property towards the SMSF similar to the example above as for a bank account.

    Also, do I have to arrange these documents before the overseas purchase or can I do that just after complete the transaction.

    Many thanks

  • Anca Neagoie

    Desperate plea for help!!!
    1. We were advised to invest our super into a smsf fund . The fund invested in a property ,
    2. Our company then posted us overseas (because of business closures and job losses in Australia) and we advised the financial advisor for the fund a
    number of times that we were going overseas with the intention to return to Australia.
    At no stage did we receive any response from the fund suggesting that this would lead to significant issues in the future.
    3. We now understand that we could lose all our investment in this fund because of the residency restrictions around smsf we just became aware. We are still overseas.The fund ran out of money and we cannot service the mortgage. This is our life savings. We are very concerned about our future. We continue to support our children at university and secondary school.
    We are very concerned about our future. Can you advise us what we can do?
    We contacted other financial adviser and indicated we should sell. With the current state of the market due to COVID this will be a disaster. The current ones – that failed to advise are not saying anything – it’s like we do not exist.
    We wrote to the ATO early this week asking for a private ruling – no answer so far .
    Any suggestions of where to turn for help? This is our entire nest egg and we are loosing everything. We are desperate. Thank you.

    • Hein Preller


      Please note the ATO does not take a big stick approach towards residency requirements surrounding SMSFs. If you explain your situation, the ATO will most likely rule in your favour if you can illustrate you tried to do the right thing.

      In your current situation, remain patient until the Tax Office return with the private ruling response. To our understanding, the SMSF must follow three criteria surrounding residency requirements. If the Fund fails to meet the residency criteria, the SMSF may be deemed Non-Complying and taxed at the marginal rate of 49%. For further guidance on Residency Rules, please see here:

      Be mindful, the ATO will look at your intention to reside overseas on a permanent or temporary basis when determining the Funds residency status.

      In the interim, please await the ATOs private response in relation to your current situation and monitor your Trustee duty when operating an SMSF to ensure the Fund is a Complying SMSF.

Contact Details


Peace Of Mind

We are Melbourne based with clients throughout Australia. Our SMSF administration service is mostly paperless. This enable us to charge a fair fee, resulting in a good value-proposition for you.

No Advice

Superannuation Warehouse is an accounting firm and do not provide financial advice. All information provided has been prepared without taking into account any of the Trustees’ objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of that, Trustees are advised to consider their own circumstances before engaging our services.