Waiving spousal rights
Your spouse is automatically the beneficiary of your pension. Learn what's involved if your spouse wants to give up their right to receive a pension benefit when you die.
Your spouse is automatically the beneficiary of your pension and has a legal right to receive a death benefit when you die. This means:
- If you die before you retire, your spouse will be paid a death benefit, which could be either a lump-sum payment or an immediate monthly pension, depending on your age at death
- If you die after you retire, your spouse may continue to receive a portion of your pension benefit, depending on the pension option you chose at retirement
Your spouse can choose to give up their right to the pension benefit by signing a waiver. (By doing so, they waive their rights as a primary and alternate beneficiary.) You can then name a beneficiary other than your spouse to receive your pension benefit.
Waiving the right to a pre-retirement death benefit
Your spouse is entitled to receive a pre-retirement death benefit if you die before you apply for your pension. They can give up this right by submitting Form 4 Spouse’s waiver of beneficiary right to benefits in a pension plan, locked-in retirement account, life income fund or annuity before pension or annuity payments start.
You can then name a beneficiary other than your spouse to receive your pension benefit. You must submit the Form 4 waiver along with your Nomination of beneficiary (pre-retirement) form.
If your spouse gives up their right to the death benefit and you die before applying for a pension, this benefit will be paid as a lump-sum payment to your named beneficiary(ies).
When retiring or after retirement: waiving spousal rights to a death benefit and monthly pension
When you retire, your spouse can waive their right to your pension benefit by submitting Form 2 Spouse’s waiver of 60% lifetime survivor’s benefit and/or beneficiary rights from a pension plan or annuity after payments start. This form includes two waivers:
- Waiver A gives up or reduces their right to a minimum 60 per cent lifetime death (survivor’s) benefit should you die after you retire
- Waiver B gives up their beneficiary right to receive a monthly pension after you die, depending on the pension option you chose at retirement
If your spouse initials Waiver A and gives up their right to a minimum 60 per cent lifetime death (survivor's) benefit, they are still the beneficiary of the guarantee period of your pension, unless they give up this right by also initialling Waiver B.
Waiver A: death (survivor’s) benefit
When initialling Waiver A, your spouse must indicate how they want to receive benefits from the plan should you die:
- If you chose a joint life option, your spouse must select the "lifetime payments that are ___%" box and enter the percentage (less than 60%) that they want to receive
- If you chose a single life option, your spouse can select the "payments during the ___-year guarantee period" box and enter the number of years they want to be covered over the remainder of the guarantee period should you die before the end of that period
The earliest your spouse can give up their right to a minimum 60 per cent lifetime survivor's benefit is 90 days from your pension effective date.
Waiver B: monthly pension
If you chose a single life option with a guarantee period, your spouse can also give up their beneficiary right to receive a death benefit should you die before the end of your pension option guarantee period by initialling Waiver B. Your spouse can give up this right at any time within the guarantee period and before your death.