If you have not yet reached retirement, it can be easy to put off thinking about who will get your pension when you die.

However, for more than 750,000 people, the answer is not the person they would want to have it. (Source: Royal London)

This is because they have not updated their expression of wish form, and therefore, their pension provider is operating on outdated or non-existent information.

What is an expression of wish form?

When you first joined a pension, whether a private arrangement, or though work, you will have been asked to nominate the person or people who you wish to receive your remaining pension upon your death. Since completing this form, your wishes may have changed. Without updating your form, the wrong people will benefit from your pension, should the unexpected happen.

Why are so many expression of wish forms outdated?

In some cases, you may not realise that your nominated beneficiary is out of date. You may have forgotten to update it or think you have already done it. Alternatively, you may not realise that recent events, such as getting married or divorced, mean that you need to update your expression of wish form.

What are the causes?

You should update your expression of wish form whenever yours, or your beneficiaries’ circumstances change, including when:

  • Your beneficiary gets married and changes their name
  • You decide to add a beneficiary
  • You decide to remove a beneficiary
  • You get married
  • You separate from, or divorce your partner
  • You decide to change the way your pension will be divided among beneficiaries

How common is the issue?

Research by Royal London, using data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows that, in 2016, more than 1.3 million people aged 55-64 were remarried after divorce, while a further 30,000 were in a new, cohabiting relationship, following a divorce. The research showed that this left more than 750,000 in a position requiring an expression of wish update.

20,000 55-to-64-year-olds had never been married but were cohabiting in 2016. However, having no prior marriages doesn’t necessarily mean that they have never been in a relationship where their partner was named as their beneficiary. And if they still are, their current partner could be at risk of financial difficulty.

Updating your expression of wish form

If you need to make changes to your expression of wish, you will need to contact your financial adviser, pension provider or employer’s HR department. How you do this will depend on the type of pension you have and how the systems work.

Some providers will have an online management system, which can be used to update your beneficiary and contact information.

Spread the word

It’s not just your expression of wish form that should be updated to protect your assets if you die. Having a valid will is also vital. 63% of UK adults (and 42% of over-55s) risk their assets being distributed according to the laws of intestacy, rather than their own wishes (Source: Macmillan Cancer Care).

So, it’s time to make sure that you have the right documentation in place.

If you have got married or divorced since you last updated your will, it is currently invalid and if you were to die suddenly, your assets would be divided according to pre-set laws, which do not take your wishes into consideration. It is estimated that 1.5 million are currently unaware that they have an invalid will because of a relationship change.

One fifth of people know that their will needs to be updated but have not done so. The incorrect information on those wills currently mean that:

  • An ex-partner stands to inherit
  • A new partner is not entitled to any benefits
  • Unwanted beneficiaries are still included
  • New children and grandchildren are not yet included

Why update your will and expression of wish?

Ensuring that all paperwork, which dictates what happens to your belongings and assets when you die, is up to date means that:

  • Your estate will be distributed according to your wishes
  • Your dependents, children and pets will be cared for accordingly
  • Your family will not have to face a lengthy legal process
  • Your family will be able to focus on their emotions, knowing that the major decisions have already been made
  • You can provide financial stability and help to those you love

To talk about your pension and estate planning, get in touch with us on 0113 262 1242.