Rising marriage and divorce rates amongst retirees sparks pension warning

As record numbers of over 65s get married or divorced, Royal London is warning retirees to make sure their pension goes to their intended beneficiary when they die.

This week, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed the number of women and men that had got married aged 65 or over had risen by 46% in the 10 years to 2014.

Likewise, while overall levels of divorce fell by 28% between 2005 and 2015, over 65s are bucking the trend. The number of divorcing men aged 65 or over increased by 23% over the same time frame, while the number of women aged 65 or over getting divorced shot up by 38%.

When you die, your pension does not form part of your estate nor would it be covered by your will. Instead, any ongoing payments or lump sum benefits would be paid to the nominated beneficiary on your pension paper work. If this is not updated when you either marry or divorce there is a significant risk that your money will go to the wrong person when you die. It may also mean that any children or stepchildren from a new relationship do not get any money.

When information is out of date, a pension scheme’s trustees will explore who the money should be paid to by contacting family after a death and by looking at the will – however this can be a lengthy process and their decisions about the right home for your money might not be the same as yours.

Helen Morrissey, personal finance expert at Royal London, says: “Far more people are either getting married or separating later in life than in the past.  As well as new spouses and partners, this brings new children and step-children into the mix. 

“We would encourage anyone who has changed their marital status since they first joined a pension scheme to make sure that the scheme knows their wishes. This includes pension rights that you may have built up when you worked for previous firms.”

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