12 August 2014
It is certainly a problem that many people lose track of old pension entitlements and, especially if husbands have passed away, widows will often be left without anything from their husband’s pension unless they are aware of what his entitlement was.
If husbands have died relatively young, a defined benefit pension scheme would provide some money for the widow and a defined contribution scheme could pay out a tax free sum, but widows would need to to notify the scheme that their husband has passed away and make a claim for their entitlement.
What can people do:
1. Keep track of all old entitlements. It is very important for people to keep track of their old pensions and this is vital even before you reach older ages, just in case of accidental death.
2. Consider merging old pension entitlements together in one place so they are easier to keep track of. Ideally, people might consider moving their old entitlements with them when they change jobs or start with a new pension provider, but with old defined benefit schemes that is usually not possible.
3. Keep a list of all your pension entitlements and latest statements.
4. Every time you move house, notify all your pension providers of your change of address so they can contact you.
5. Keep your ‘expression of wish’ form up to date so your pension provider knows who should inherit your pension if the worst happens.
6. Trace all lost pensions – there is a Government-run pension tracing service which can help you track down old pensions https://www.gov.uk/find-lost-pension . Telephone: 0845 6002 537.
7. If you have lost track of an old pension, try contacting your previous employer but if the firm you worked for has merged or changed its name you will need to try to find out what happened to the company. The same would apply if you had an old pension policy that is not sponsored by an employer but was a personal pension arrangement – your compnay many have merged with another one and changed its name, so you will need to look up what has happened to the firm and then contact the administrator of the existing company that has taken over the old business.
8. If you are a widow whose husband has already passed away, consider writing to any past employers you know your husband worked for to ask if they have a pension scheme and if they have any record of him having been a member. Trustees are often keen to trace former members so you could be helping them by contacting them anyway.