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Expression of wish FAQs

What is an Expression of Wish form?

If a client passes away with money in a pension, the administrators will need to decide who benefits from those funds. An Expression of Wish form lets the client choose who they would prefer the money to go to and in what proportions.

While the pension administrators are not obliged to follow the preferences stated in the form, they do take them in to account in the majority of cases.

Why is an Expression of Wish form important?

In the absence of an Expression of Wish form, the administrator will make every effort to decide who the benefits should be paid to following the death of a member by investigating potential beneficiaries. However, this may not match the member’s intentions.

Completing an Expression of Wish form therefore helps to ensure that the correct beneficiaries receive the money from the pension and in the desired proportions. It also allows the administrators to pay the money as one-off lump sums or as regular pension withdrawals if requested, whichever suits the beneficiaries and their tax position in the future.

What happens to a pension when a member dies?

Where a completed Expression of Wish form has been received, the administrators will look to pay the benefits to any beneficiaries that the member has named (including any Charities and Trusts).

If no Expression of Wish form is held, or the administrators cannot follow Expression of Wish preferences for some reason (such as if the nominated beneficiaries have passed away), they will typically consider any dependents of the member. These normally include:

  • their spouse or civil partner
  • any children under the age of 23
  • anyone who was dependent on the member financially or due to physical or mental impairment
  • anyone whose financial relationship with the member was one of mutual dependence.

Another possibility is that the administrators may decide to pay the pension to someone else, such as a family member or non-dependent mentioned in the client’s will.

Completing an Expression of Wish form

A client should name all beneficiaries and the proportion of the benefit they would like the administrators to consider when exercising their discretion to whom to pay any benefits.

The client should also complete the Nominees section if they wish to name individuals solely as nominees. This potentially allows nominee death benefits to be paid in the event they are not distributed to the named beneficiaries. In other words, it ensures that the widest possible range of individuals are eligible to receive death benefits.

An Expression of Wish form can be updated at any time. A fresh form will supersede any form previously sent to the administrators.

The above information is specific to the Expression of Wish Form - this may not be the case for forms from other platforms.

For more information on death benefits payable under different schemes

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