Beneficiaries and your pension
Learn the options available to you when choosing a beneficiary (or beneficiaries) for your pension benefit.
Your spouse and children as beneficiaries
Your spouse is automatically your sole beneficiary.
If you have a spouse, you are limited in your ability to name other beneficiaries because, under legislation, your spouse has specific pension rights.
The benefit your spouse is eligible for depends on your age when you die.
If you die before your earliest retirement age, your spouse is eligible for one of the following:
- An immediate monthly pension for their lifetime
- A payment equal to the commuted value of your pension
If you die after your earliest retirement age, your spouse is eligible for an immediate monthly pension for their lifetime.
Once you've retired and are receiving your pension, the benefit your spouse will receive, if you die before they do, depends on the pension option you chose at retirement and whether your spouse gave up their beneficiary right to your pension benefit.
If your spouse wants to waive their beneficiary rights
Your spouse can choose to give up their automatic right to your pension benefit. This is known as waiving their beneficiary rights. To do so, they must sign a formal waiver stating they want to give up their right to one or more of the following:
- A death benefit if you die before you retire
- A minimum 60 per cent lifetime death benefit if you die after you retire (the earliest your spouse can give up this right is 90 days before your pension effective date)
- A monthly pension for the guarantee period if you selected a single life option (your spouse can give up this right at any time up to your death)
If your spouse waives their beneficiary rights, the pension benefit will go to the last named beneficiary on your file or, if there is none, to your estate.
If your spouse wants to waive their right to a death benefit, they need to sign one waiver before you retire and a second waiver when you are applying for your pension.
Naming a child as a beneficiary
You can name your child or children as beneficiaries if you do not have a spouse or your spouse has given up their beneficiary right to your pension benefit.
If your spouse is your beneficiary, you can name each child as an alternate beneficiary. This means that, if your spouse dies before you, each child will be a beneficiary of your pension benefit.
If your child is under age 19, you can name a trustee to manage and distribute the pension benefit on your child’s behalf. If you have named a child under age 19 as your beneficiary but have not named a trustee, any death benefit will be payable to and managed by the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia until your child reaches age 19.