Beneficiaries and your pension

Learn the options available to you when choosing a beneficiary (or beneficiaries) for your pension benefit.

Your pension is a secure, lifetime income source after you retire. In addition to the financial security it provides you, your pension can also provide financial care for your beneficiaries after your death. Your beneficiaries can be family members, friends, charities or organizations that are important to you.

If you die before you retire, the plan will pay a pre-retirement survivor (death) benefit to your beneficiary(ies).

If you die after you retire, the plan may pay pension benefits to your beneficiary(ies) based on the pension option you chose when you retired.

Your pre-retirement beneficiaries are entitled to a portion of your pension should you die before retirement, but not after. You may name them again or another beneficiary(ies) when you apply for your pension.

It’s a good idea to talk with an estate planner, lawyer or other adviser to determine the best choice for you when it comes to naming beneficiaries.

There are two default beneficiaries: your spouse or your estate.

Your spouse

Your spouse is automatically your beneficiary when you die. Your spouse is either the person you are married to or in a common-law relationship with for more than two years.

However, your spouse can choose to give up their right to the pre-retirement survivor (death) benefit or pension benefit they would normally receive when you die. They do this by signing a waiver.

If you do not have a spouse or if your spouse has given up their right to a pre-retirement survivor benefit or pension benefit, you can name other people, charities or organizations as your beneficiaries.

You may also name a trust for a beneficiary. This is helpful in cases where a beneficiary is a minor at the time of your death or if you have a beneficiary who is not able to manage their own finances.

You can name one or more alternate beneficiaries for each beneficiary. This means that if a beneficiary dies before you, the alternate beneficiary(ies) will receive the pension benefit when you die.

Your estate

Your estate is automatically your beneficiary when you die if you do not have a spouse and have not named a beneficiary. Your executor will be responsible for distributing the pension benefit. If you do not have a legal will, an administrator will be appointed.

You can also name your estate as your beneficiary. If you do, the pension benefit will be paid to your estate and distributed according to the instructions in your will.

Sign in to My Account to view your current beneficiary information.