Who Gets My Pension if I Die?
When you write your Will, you make a plan for who you want to inherit your finances when you die. Sometimes though, sorting out what will happen to your pension is neglected. And as Martin Lewis recently pointed out – you wouldn’t want to accidentally leave your pension to your ex.
You can’t organise what happens to your pension in your Will, alongside your other assets and finances, but you can nominate beneficiaries in an Expression of Wish form.
What is an Expression of Wish form?
An Expression of Wish (or nomination) form is a plan for what happens to your pension. In the form, you can state who you would prefer to be the beneficiary of your pension, if you die before the fund has been used. It’s important to note that your pension administrator will have the final say on what happens to the pot, but they will take your nominated beneficiaries into account when making this decision.
You will most likely have completed this form when you originally set up your pension, but it’s worth revisiting, especially if your circumstances have changed substantially – like if you’ve been through a divorce. So – if your ex’s name is still on your Expression of Wish form, they could end up being the beneficiary of your pension!
What happens if I don’t have an Expression of Wish form?
If you haven’t completed an Expression of Wish form, it will be up to your pension administrator to decide who will have access to your pension, and this might not be who you want it to be. However, the administrator will usually choose a dependent, like a spouse, civil partner, or child under the age of 23 years old, to be in receipt of your pension after you die.
Who can I choose as a beneficiary of my pension?
You can nominate people close to you, like family and friends, or charities and trusts to receive your pension benefits in the unfortunate event of your death. In the Expression of Wish form, you can choose a percentage of the pension that each beneficiary should be entitled to, according to your wishes.
What if I have a State Pension?
The type of pension fund you have can dictate what happens to your pension when you die, too. The information above generally applies to private and workplace pensions. If you are in receipt of a State Pension, the government usually stops the payment upon death, but there could be a situation where your husband, wife or civil partner could inherit some of this. You can check to see if your spouse could be a beneficiary of your State Pension using this government tool.
Our Head of Private Client, Kimberley Mackay, recommends reviewing your pension with a financial advisor as well as sorting out your Will and Power of Attorney. By taking the time to revisit your Expression of Wish form, you get to set out your wishes for the money you have put aside for your retirement. If you don’t update your form, your family may wish to contest the beneficiary, which can be a long and tiring process.
So, if you don’t want your ex benefitting from your pension pot, contact your pension administrator today.