Beneficiaries and your pension
Learn the options available to you when choosing a beneficiary (or beneficiaries) for your pension benefit.
Your spouse and children as beneficiaries
Your spouse is automatically your beneficiary. Your spouse is the person you are married to and have not lived separate and apart from for a continuous period longer than two years. Your spouse can also be the person you are living with in a marriage-like relationship for a period of at least two years immediately preceding the date of your death.
If you have a spouse, your ability to name other beneficiaries is limited because, under legislation, your spouse has rights to your pension.
What your spouse is eligible for depends on your age when you die.
If you die while you are still working and before your earliest retirement age (under age 55 or 50 for police and firefighters), your spouse is eligible for either an immediate monthly pension for their lifetime or a payment equal to the commuted value of your pension.
If you die while you are still working and after your earliest retirement age, your spouse is only eligible to receive an immediate monthly pension.
Once you've retired, if you die before your spouse, what your spouse will receive depends on what pension option you chose at retirement and whether your spouse gave up their beneficiary rights.
If your spouse wants to waive their beneficiary rights
Your spouse can choose to give up their automatic rights to your pension. To do so, they must sign a formal waiver stating that they want to give up their right to one or more of the following:
- A pre-retirement survivor (death) benefit if you die before you retire
- A minimum 60 per cent lifetime survivor’s (death) benefit if you die after you retire (the earliest your spouse can give up this right is 90 days before your pension effective date)
- To receive a monthly pension for the specified period if you selected a single life option (your spouse can give up this right at any time up until your death)
If your spouse waives their beneficiary rights, the survivor benefit will go to the last named beneficiary on your file or to your estate. If your spouse waives their rights before your retirement, and wishes to waive again, they can do this as you apply for your pension.
Naming a child as a beneficiary
If you do not have a spouse or your spouse has given up their beneficiary rights, you can name your child or children as beneficiaries.
If your spouse is your beneficiary, you can name each child as an alternate beneficiary. This means that if your spouse dies before you, each child will be a beneficiary of your pension benefit.
If you died and your spouse, who is your beneficiary (and your children are your alternate beneficiaries), dies before the guarantee period ends, any remaining pension benefit will go to your spouse’s estate.
If your child is under age 19, you can name a trustee to manage and distribute the pension benefit on your child’s behalf. If you have not nominated a trustee, but have named your child under age 19 as your beneficiary, any pension benefit will be payable to and managed by the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia until your child reaches age 19.