The Wills, Estates, and Succession Act (WESA) is legislation passed by the BC government that modernizes the law respecting the making of wills, the nomination of beneficiaries, the administration of estates and the distribution of property from estates. The plan rules have changed to reflect this new legislation, including changes around who you can nominate as your beneficiary for pension purposes and how you can make that nomination.
What does nominating a beneficiary mean?
Your beneficiary is the person, people, and/or organization(s) that you choose to receive pension benefits in the event of your death. The term nominate means to choose or name or designate, and in this situation refers to you choosing who or what receives any pension benefit after your death.
How do these changes affect me?
In the event of your death, your pension can be a valuable and important benefit for those left behind. The legislation provides you with more options to protect your family, leave a legacy to your community and customize your estate planning the way you want. These changes will expand the number of options available to you but you are not required to do anything—your existing nomination will remain valid.
Do I need to change anything in my current nomination of beneficiary to conform to the new rules?
No, you are not obligated to make any changes. If you have a spouse, they are automatically your beneficiary unless they have waived their rights to any death benefits. If you do not have a spouse and have not completed a Nomination of Beneficiary form, your estate is your beneficiary by default.
Can I choose anyone or anything to be my beneficiary?
There are limits to nominations. If you have a spouse, they are automatically your beneficiary unless they have waived their rights to any pension benefits. The pension option you select at retirement will determine if you have the ability to choose your beneficiary.
I am going to retire. What does this mean to me?
It means you will have more beneficiary options than you had before. You may be able to nominate multiple beneficiaries, an organization, establish a trust or nominate a trustee for a dependant. You may also be able to nominate alternate beneficiaries. Your choices will be influenced by the choice of pension option that you (and your spouse, if have you one) decide upon at retirement.
I have already retired. Can I change my beneficiary?
If you do not have a spouse and did not have one at retirement, you can change your beneficiary.
If you had a spouse at retirement and your spouse is still alive, your spouse is your beneficiary. Depending on the pension option you and your spouse have selected and providing the guarantee period has not expired, you may be able to change your beneficiary if at retirement your spouse waived all entitlement to beneficiary rights.
For any joint life options with a guarantee period, your spouse is automatically your beneficiary and cannot be changed. In this situation, you can name an alternate beneficiary(ies) should your spouse predecease you for any guarantee period remaining at the time of their death.
If I am not planning on retiring in the near future, can I nominate or change my beneficiary?
You can change your beneficiary under the current rules but must wait until March 31, 2014, in order to nominate a beneficiary under the new rules. You are not required to do anything as your existing nomination will remain valid.
Can I make nomination of beneficiary arrangements for my pension plan in my will?
If you have outlined your pension benefits within your will, you must ensure that you specifically named the Teachers’ Pension Plan, as well as completely and accurately specifying how your pension plan benefits are to be divided and listing your beneficiaries.
Where can I get more information on beneficiary nominations?