Once you have decided to set up your own SMSF, the first decision is whether to have a Corporate or Individual Trustee structure.
A trustee is the entity (company or people) that acts on behalf of the super fund. Every super fund has a trustee, and the assets of the fund will be registered in the name of the trustee.
Most funds have individual trustees which I find surprising. To me it indicates that the people setting up the fund have not taken advice, or have received poor advice. The benefit of having an individual trustee is that is saves you a bit of money in the short term. And that's where the benefits end. There is no additional cost to set up an individual trustee, whereas a corporate trustee involves creating a company (Lime Super charges $550 for this, once off), and the regulator charges $43 p.a. as well.
Here are the benefits of having a Corporate Trustee:
Having a Corporate trustee ensures that you will not accidentally mix your personal assets with your SMSF assets. I have seen funds with individual trustees where the members have accidentally banked money intended for themselves into the SMSF's bank account. As a result they have exceeded their superannuation contribution limits and this can result in penalties.
If the members of the fund change (eg due to divorce, marriage, death, bringing a child into the fund) and you have individual trustees, you need to update the name of every asset. That means if you have a bank account then you need to close that account and open a new one. Any direct debits/credits need to be updated etc. The process is the same if youw own shares. It is an administrative nightmare. This effort is not required if you have a corporate trustee.
If you plan to buy property in the fund and borrow then most banks will only lend if you have a corporate trustee - or they will lend more with a corporate trustee
If you only have one member of the fund, having a company as trustee means you don't need to find a second individual trustee. Note that funds with one member and an individual trustee structure need to have 2 trustees.
A corporate trustee provides limited liability which will provide a level of protection if you are sued.
If you lose mental capacity as you get older then a corporate trustee makes it easier for your SMSF to continue to operate.
I know what you are thinking - "this doesn't apply to me now, I'll worry about it later". Well guess what - when yo change your trustee from individual to corporate, you will have to change the name on all your bank accounts and assets.
Given these benefits, I generally recommend a corporate trustee structure to my clients. And they will all thank me for it at some stage in the future (if they haven't already).