What's a beneficiary?
A beneficiary is someone who receives any money left in your pension plan after your death. This might happen if you die before you start taking benefits. It could also happen if you’re flexibly withdrawing money from your pension to support your retirement whilst leaving the rest invested.
Is it necessary?
You don't have to nominate a beneficiary for your pension. If you don't have any beneficiaries, we'll distribute the value to your next of kin in most cases.
But by nominating a beneficiary, you’re making it clear to us who you’d like to receive your pension money. So if there are certain people that might not be obvious choices or some loved ones you’d like to prioritise, nominating beneficiaries makes your intentions clear.
If your circumstances change at any point – for example, a separation or divorce – you can review your nominations and make changes in MyAviva.
Who can I nominate?
Anyone – you can nominate up to 4 people on MyAviva and nominate more over the phone. Charities are eligible, but you’ll also need to nominate them over the phone. It’s worth bearing in mind that any charity choices you make could be overruled if you have dependents who need financial support.
We need to consider all potential beneficiaries when a claim is made. So if there’s been a change of circumstance since you made your nominations – such as a marriage, divorce or birth – we’ll have to ensure your nominations are still appropriate. This could also affect how we’re able to distribute your pension.
Will the money be taxed?
Nominating a beneficiary means your pension money may not count as part of your estate – ensuring inheritance tax wouldn’t be applied. However, this may vary depending on your circumstances.
There are also some circumstances where some of your pension money can be taxed.
If you exceed your lifetime allowance – the limit on the total value of benefits you can take from all your pension arrangements – you’ll have to pay additional tax. The lifetime allowance for the 2019/2020 tax year is £1,055,000.
If you pass away after age 75, your money will also be charged at the beneficiary’s marginal tax rate, in the tax year you take it.
A financial adviser can help you understand these tax implications in detail. If you don’t have a financial adviser, unbiased.co.uk can help you learn more about financial advice and how to find an adviser.
How will my nominated beneficiary get the money?
It’s up to them. They can take it as a lump sum or use income drawdown to withdraw the money as and when they need it. They can also choose to buy an annuity with the money – although a financial adviser is best placed to help a beneficiary understand their options.
In some rare circumstances where we’re unable to pay the nominated beneficiary, the options available could change.
Are they added instantly?
Yes, they are added instantly, but please allow 48 hours for them to show within MyAviva.
Are there any alternatives to nominating beneficiaries?
You may want to consider opening a trust. This will ensure your wishes are bound under a legal agreement.
Even if you set up a trust separately from us, it’s still legally binding – meaning your Aviva Pension will be paid into it once you pass away.
A financial adviser can help you understand whether a trust is right for you. If you don’t have a financial adviser, unbiased.co.uk can help you learn more about financial advice and how to find an adviser.
Adding a beneficiary?
You can do it online in 3 steps.
Select ‘pensions beneficiaries’ then 'choose beneficiaries'
Complete the online form and you're done