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750,000 could see pension assets go to the wrong people

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Over 750,000 people may be passing their pension assets to the wrong person when they die, finds research by Royal London.

Pensions sit outside your estate when you die. As such, you need to make an ‘expression of wishes’ showing who should receive your pension assets if you die.

Often, people forget to update their beneficiaries when their circumstances change – for example, they divorce, remarry or form a new partnership. Unless these preferences are updated, there is a risk that any benefits will go to a former partner.

The average person is expected to have 11 different jobs during their working life and will have multiple different pension arrangements. While scheme trustees and providers will make efforts to consult the deceased’s will and speak to colleagues and family, this can be difficult.

Royal London looked at data from the Office for National Statistics for 2016, which showed: at least 1.3 million people aged between 55 and 64 have divorced and re-married; a further 0.3 million people in this age group are cohabiting after having been previously married; a further 0.2 million people in this age group are cohabiting having never been previously married.

Based on the Wealth and Assets Survey, it estimated that around 42% of this age group have pension rights, suggesting that over 750,000 could be affected.

Helen Morrissey, personal finance specialist at Royal London, said: “Over the course of our lives, many of us will be in a number of different relationships. The person we want to receive any pension benefits after we are gone is likely to change over time. But if we have not told all of our past pension schemes about our new wishes and our new circumstances, there is a risk that the wrong person will stand to gain. It is important people make sure that all of this information is kept up-to-date”.

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