The importance of writing and regularly updating your will has been reiterated by private client lawyers since time immemorial. However many people are unaware that the inheritance of one of their largest assets, their pension pot, is not governed by this document.
Instead when a new pension is set up the member will have been asked to complete a nomination form , advising the pension provider of the person(s) to whom the benefits should be paid on their demise. For most people this will be a spouse or civil partner. But in the event of separation or divorce, unless the nomination has been updated, the benefits could still be paid to the original nominee.
Nomination forms, like wills, should be reviewed at times of family change such as death, divorce or loss of capacity to ensure that the benefits will be paid to the correct person. The original forms are usually retained by the pension provider but copies should be kept with the will.
The demise of the "jobs for life" culture of the past means that many of us will move job and hence pension schemes several times over the course of our career. It is all too easy to lose track of the schemes and the funds they contain. The government estimates there is £400m in unclaimed pension schemes and so they have launched a new tracing service which can be accessed here.
So start by finding your old pension schemes and then make sure that your nomination is up to date. And of course, you do still need a will!
Millions of people are in danger of inadvertently leaving money to the wrong people, experts have warned.