Waiving spousal rights
Your spouse is automatically the beneficiary of your pension. Learn what's involved if your spouse wants to give up their right to receive a pension benefit when you die.
Your spouse is automatically the beneficiary of your pension and has a legal right to receive a pension benefit when you die. This means:
- If you die before you retire, your spouse will be paid a pre-retirement survivor (death) benefit. This could be a lump-sum payment or an immediate monthly pension, depending on your age at death
- Once you have retired, if you die before your spouse, your spouse may continue to receive a portion of your pension benefit depending on the pension option you chose at retirement
Your spouse can choose to give up their rights to the pension benefit by signing a waiver. You can then name a beneficiary other than your spouse to receive your pension benefit.
Waiving the right to a pre-retirement survivor benefit
Your spouse is entitled to receive a pre-retirement survivor (death) benefit if you die before you have applied for your pension. They can give up this right by submitting Form 4 Spouse’s waiver of beneficiary right to benefits in a pension plan, locked-in retirement account, life income fund or annuity before pension or annuity payments start.
If your spouse waives their entitlement with the Form 4 waiver, you can name a beneficiary other than your spouse to receive your pre-retirement survivor (death) benefit. You must submit the Form 4 waiver with your Nomination of beneficiary form.
If your spouse gives up their right to the pre-retirement survivor (death) benefit and you die before applying for a pension, this benefit will be paid as a lump-sum payment to your named beneficiary(ies).
Waiving spousal rights at or after retirement
When you retire, your spouse can waive their rights by submitting Form 2 Spouse’s waiver of 60% lifetime survivor’s benefit and/or beneficiary rights from a pension plan or annuity after payments start. This form includes two waivers:
- Waiver A to give up their right to a minimum 60 per cent lifetime survivor’s (death) benefit if you die after you retire
- Waiver B to give up their beneficiary right to receive a monthly pension after you die, depending on the pension option you chose at retirement
If your spouse gives up their right to a minimum 60 per cent lifetime survivor's benefit (by initialling Waiver A), they are still the beneficiary of the guarantee period of your pension, unless they give up this right by also initialling Waiver B.
When initialling Waiver A, your spouse must indicate how they want to receive benefits from the plan when you die:
- If you chose a joint life option, your spouse must select the "Lifetime payments that are ___%" box and enter the percentage that your spouse wants to receive; this amount is or must be less than 60 per cent
- If you chose a single life option, your spouse can select the "Payments during the ___-year guarantee period" and enter the number of years your spouse want to be covered over the remainder of the guarantee period if you die before the end of your pension’s guarantee period
The earliest your spouse can give up their right to a minimum 60 per cent lifetime survivor's benefit is 90 days from your pension effective date.
If you chose a single life option, your spouse can also give up their beneficiary right to receive a pension benefit if you die before the end of your pension option guarantee period by initialling Waiver B. Your spouse can give up this right at any time within the guarantee period and before your death.