Questions? Feedback? powered by Olark live chat software

Pension Savers Advised to Update Records to Avoid Inheritance Disputes

Pension savers are being advised to keep all papers relating to who would inherit money in the event of their death fully up-to-date.

This call comes amid a spate of challenges to decisions made by Pension Scheme Trustees, in cases where the wishes of a member who died were not stated clearly enough, says The Telegraph.

According to the Association of Member Nominated Trustees, disputes of this nature have been on the increase in recent months. While Trustees do consider the wishes of their members, they are also obliged to take other potential beneficiaries into account, particularly in cases where the document appears not to have been regularly updated.

It becomes difficult for Trustees to decide who to recognise as beneficiary when pension savers marry again and fail to state this in their paperwork, especially when children are involved.

Those who are most likely to face such issues are members of occupational pension schemes that tie benefits to their wage. In order to avoid possible implications and spare worries to their families, they are advised to fill in an "expression of wishes" form to name the receiver of their pension benefits in case of death. Many people now opt for such documents, but some still fail to reflect changes in circumstances in the document after they become scheme members.

Disputes over how pension schemes are run are handled by the Pensions Ombudsman, which last year published a case illustrating the implications of failing to update pension-related documentation.

The example concerns a pension scheme member who filled in a form in January 2000 stating that he wanted to leave his death benefits to his two daughters. A year later he married his second wife but he died in April 2006 without having changed to his stated wishes or leaving a Will.

The Trustees agreed that it was his daughters' right to inherit the death benefit, but the wife contested the decision and referred it to the Pensions Ombudsman. The institution agreed with the wife's arguments and asked the pension scheme to review its decision.

Obviously, this example highlights that it is also a very good idea to keep an up-to-date Will.