Expert advice

Legal advice: How can I ensure my partner gets my NHS pension? We are not married

Make sure you understand the terms of your pension scheme and state clearly who you wish to benefit from it in the event of your death, says legal expert Marc Cornock.

Make sure you understand the terms of your pension scheme and state clearly who you wish to benefit from it in the event of your death, says legal expert Marc Cornock

Most occupational pension schemes, such as that for NHS employees, ask members to declare who they wish the benefits to be paid to if they die. These are known as expressions of interest forms or something similar, and in them you state who you wish to receive your benefits.

Not all pension schemes have the same rules, and it is worth contacting your scheme to see what they offer to a dependent unmarried partner. There will also be specific rules for paying benefits to dependent children, and if this applies to you then you should ask about these as well.

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Make sure you understand the terms of your pension scheme and state clearly who you wish to benefit from it in the event of your death, says legal expert Marc Cornock

pension
Check that your pension scheme is aware of your wishes.  Picture: iStock

Most occupational pension schemes, such as that for NHS employees, ask members to declare who they wish the benefits to be paid to if they die. These are known as ‘expressions of interest’ forms or something similar, and in them you state who you wish to receive your benefits.

Not all pension schemes have the same rules, and it is worth contacting your scheme to see what they offer to a dependent unmarried partner. There will also be specific rules for paying benefits to dependent children, and if this applies to you then you should ask about these as well.

Regardless of whether someone is married or not, everyone in an occupational pension scheme should periodically check that their scheme has the correct details regarding their wishes.

Update your details

This is important, as many schemes have discretion over who to pay in the event of the member’s death if no expressions of interest exist.

Ensure that you update your pension scheme with your current address when you move so they can maintain contact, and similarly if you change your name.

It is a good idea to check what scheme you are in and the benefits available. There have been several changes in the NHS pension scheme over the years and you may have benefits from more than one version of the pension scheme, each dealt with in a different way.

Make a note of your pension scheme number and the administrator’s address, as when someone dies the scheme needs to be notified so that it can ensure that any benefits and entitlements are paid.


Marc Cornock is a qualified nurse, academic lawyer and senior lecturer at the Open University

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