What Happens to Your Pension When You Pass Away?


  • Author Royston Seeney
  • Published May 3, 2013
  • Word count 574

Ensuring the financial security of your loved ones after you pass away means understanding your pension product and what it can do for you. With so many pension products on the market in the UK it is important that the right one is selected for your personal circumstances.

Well, there are 3 possible outcomes here which we have provided details of below to help you understand where your money goes once you pass away.

A, You haven't taken any tax-free cash or income to date.

If you are under 75 and haven't taken any tax-free lump sum or income when you die, your pension is usually paid to your beneficiaries as a tax-free lump sum. If you have taken a lump sum or have received an income and you pass away when you are older than 75, your beneficiaries will still receive a lump sum, although it will be subject to a 55% tax charge. Alternatively the money can be used to provide your spouse or beneficiaries with a regular taxable income.

B, You chose an Annuity.

All annuity payments in the form of an income will stop once you pass away unless you have chosen to protect your income. It's important to find the right annuity product for you as once set up they cannot be changed. When you take out your annuity product you will have been given the option of 3 main types of 'death benefits', which are:

  1. Joint Life Option - Continuation of Income to a Spouse. In this instance your spouse will continue to receive your income after you have passed away.

  2. Minimum Period of Guaranteed Payments. You can choose to have your income paid for a guaranteed minimum period of up to 10 years even if you die within this time.

  3. Value Protection - Money Back Option. If you die before a certain age (which is usually 75) and the gross income paid to you from your pension fund is less than the amount used to buy your annuity, the balance can be paid to your beneficiaries subject to a 55% taxation charge.

Depending on your individual circumstances you may have the option of taking as many or as few of the above choices as you require. However, if you do not choose any death benefits your income will be lost and your spouse left without an income if you die early.

C, You Choose Income Drawdown. An Income Drawdown lets you stay in control of where your pension fund is invested and to draw a taxable variable income. Unlike Annuity policies you do not have to choose death benefits at the outset when choosing an Income Drawdown policy. The flexibility offered by this type of policy is also a major reason why it attracts investors although the risks are greater as poor investment performance and excessive income withdrawals can lead to a loss in income.

When you pass away your chosen beneficiaries have the following options for the remaining funds:

  1. They can take the whole remaining fund subject to a 55% tax charge.

  2. Your beneficiaries can continue to receive the income drawdown, which will be subject to normal income taxation.

  3. Providing a set criteria is met, your beneficiaries can take flexible drawdown. Any income taken in this way is subject to personal tax levels.

  4. A lump sum can be paid to your nominated charity. The payment is tax free providing that you have no dependants; if you have, the payment will be subject to a 55% tax.

Request a Free Pension Review from The Pension Guys today and set your mind at rest that your pension is going to give you and your family the financial security you expect.

The Pension Guys can also help with pursuing a claim for compensation should it become clear that your pension was miss-sold to you.

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