Welcome to Sisters In Law, news.com.au's weekly column solving all of your legal problems. This week, our resident lawyers and real-life sisters Alison and Jillian Barrett from Maurice Blackburn tackle your legal rights when it comes to life insurance.

QUESTION: My brother-in-law just passed away. He had been paying life insurance since 1988 with the super fund happy to take his money until the new changes when he was not in a state of mind to opt in nor did he receive anything. He is the forgotten one. He passed away last week and no response from the letter we sent the super fund before he died. What is their responsibility and what are our chances of a "David and Goliath" battle when it comes to the government legislation backing the insurance company in this case? I am sure we are not the only people to be this mess.

ANSWER: We are sorry to hear of the loss of your brother-in-law and the added stress of now having to deal with what could end up being a difficult dispute with an insurance company.

What you are referring to are changes that came in to effect on July 1, 2019, the Federal Government's Protecting Your Super Package Act.

These laws followed on from the banking Royal Commission which showed that many bank owned super funds were deducting excessive fees from account balances and providing substandard services.

Your brother-in-law, like most working Australians, would have been provided with automatic and affordable insurance cover for death and disability through his super fund (called MySuper accounts).

From July 1, 2019, members of choice super products and MySuper funds will lose their automatic death and disability insurance if their account is inactive (meaning no contribution has been received) for more than 16 months.

Also, members with balances under $6000 whose accounts have been inactive for more than 16 months will have their accounts paid to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) that will try to transfer it to an active super fund.

It sounds like your brother-in-law fell into one of these categories and has potentially lost his entitlement to the death benefit (or life insurance).

The law required funds to notify members who have insurance in place before July 1, 2019 and who might be affected by the changes.

This gave these members an opportunity to keep their insurance, or "opt in" as you describe it.

You should firstly contact the fund and ask them why the insurance had ceased, and ask for a copy of any written notice or letters sent to your brother-in-law explaining this.

You should also ask when his membership ended and whether the funds were paid to the ATO.

If you can show that your brother-in-law wasn't provided with the required notice about the change in insurance you may be able to dispute the decision not to pay the benefit.

If the fund was on notice about your brother-in-law's state of mind (particularly if he did not have capacity to make decisions) and that they did not contact his next of kin about the changes, you could possibly challenge their conduct also.

Finally, you should consider whether the injury or illness that ultimately lead to his death developed before July 1, 2019 when the laws changed. If so, you may be able to challenge any denial on this basis.

If you aren't satisfied with their response or decision, you should make a written complaint to the super fund.

If your concerns are not addressed, you can complain to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), which will attempt to negotiate a resolution. If this is not successful AFCA will make a formal decision on the complaint.

These matters can be quite complex so we'd also encourage you to obtain legal advice, many law firms will give you initial advice in this area for free.

This legal information is general in nature and should not be regarded as specific legal advice or relied upon. Persons requiring particular legal advice should consult a solicitor.

If you have a legal question you would like Alison and Jillian to answer, please email stories@news.com.au.

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