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Dependants and beneficiaries

Pension arrangements provide benefits to you when you retire. This makes you a beneficiary. They also can provide benefits to other people in certain circumstances such as in the event of your death. These people are also beneficiaries and they are usually your spouse/civil partner or children. But the definition of beneficiaries can be broader than that. Dependants are people that are financially dependent on you. Beneficiaries don’t have to be dependants.

The way benefits are paid on death depends on the type of pension arrangement you have. For most pension arrangements, lump sums are paid into a member’s estate. But for pension arrangements set up under a trust, you may be asked to nominate beneficiaries to receive the benefit.  To do this you can use a document called an ‘Expression of Wishes’, ‘Wishes Letter’ or ‘Nomination Form’.

The trustees will take your wishes into account but are not bound by them. For dependants’ pensions, these are paid to dependants as defined under the scheme’s rules and may cease as defined, for example when a child reaches a certain age.

Where pensions are payable to dependants, you need to advise your pension contact of any dependants you have; otherwise you may not be covered for the benefits you expect.