22 July 2017

Growing risk that your pension will go to the wrong person when you die – Royal London

4 min read

Helen Morrissey, Personal Finance Specialist
Helen Morrissey

Corporate PR Specialist – Long Term Savings


Figures published this week by the Office for National Statistics on the growing numbers of older people getting married and divorcing – so-called ‘silver  splicers’ and ‘silver splitters’ – pose a growing risk that people’s pension benefits will go to the wrong person after they die, according to mutual insurer Royal London.

Many pension schemes have forms which allow scheme members to nominate who will be the ‘beneficiary’ if the member were to die. This could cover the payment of an ongoing pension to a surviving widow or widower and/or payment of lump-sum benefits. But if the form is not updated when someone changes their marital status, this can mean an ex-spouse receives the benefits at the expense of a current spouse or partner. It also means that children and stepchildren of a new relationship may not be provided for.

If information is out of date, scheme trustees and administrators can undertake their own investigations to decide who should be paid. This can include looking through Wills, speaking to family, friends or colleagues to work out the personal circumstances of the deceased at time of death. However, keeping nomination forms updated can make the process much quicker and helps to ensure that your money goes to the right family members.

Commenting, Royal London personal finance specialist Helen Morrissey said:

Far more people are either getting married or separating later in life than in the past. As well as new spouses and partners, this brings new children and step children into the mix. We would encourage anyone who has changed their marital status since they first joined a pension scheme to make sure that the scheme knows their wishes. This includes pension rights that you may have built up when you worked for previous firms”.

- ENDS -

For further information please contact:

Helen Morrissey, Corporate PR Specialist – Long Term Savings

Notes to editors:

  1. The new ONS statistics, published on 18th July, are at: https://visual.ons.gov.uk/marriage-and-divorce-on-the-rise-at-65-and-over/

Highlights include:

  • The number of brides and grooms aged 65 and over increased by 46% between 2004 and 2014. Over 10,000 over 65s married in 2014.
  • At the same time, over 65s are bucking the declining divorce trend with the number of men aged 65 and over getting divorced increasing by 23% between 2005 and 201 and the number of women aged 65 and over getting divorced increasing by 38%.

About Royal London:

Royal London is the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK, with funds under management of £117 billion, 8.8 million policies in force and 3,745 employees. Figures quoted are as at 30 June 2018.