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Pension Death Benefits - A Reminder to Review your Wishes

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Claimant Denise Brewster has won her legal battle against the Northern Ireland Public Transport Service, Translink, regarding pension death benefits, to be provided for from her late partner’s occupational pension.

This is a timely reminder to all of us to review any arrangements that we have in place for lump sum death benefits from pensions, death in service and life insurance policies.

Denise Brewster cohabited with her partner, Lenny McMullan. They lived together for around 10 years and owned their own home.  Mr McMullan sadly died unexpectedly two days after the couple had got engaged.  Mr McMullan had not completed a nomination form for the lump sum death benefits payable from his occupational pension scheme and as they were not married there was no automatic right for Ms Brewster to benefit from the lump sum.

Ms Brewster brought a case against Translink, arguing that she is a victim of discrimination as she was an unmarried partner and the news this morning was that her case has been successful. 

All of us must ensure that if we have any life insurance, death in service or pension policies, occupational or otherwise, we review the lump sum death benefits and ensure that our wishes as to what happens to such benefits in the event of death are clearly expressed.  This can be done by way of a nomination form, letter of wishes or deed of trust depending on the nature of the policy and in each case the policy provider ought to be contacted for guidance. Many providers offer standard documentation or expert independent legal advice can be obtained for a more bespoke planning service.

All of us must ensure that our Wills are up to date, but unmarried couples particularly ought to check their pension death benefits and what they want to happen to their estate on death will in fact happen as without an up to date and valid Will in place an unmarried partner may not be legally entitled to anything other than a share of jointly owned property.

The full report on the case can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38904268

If you would like to talk to a member of the Private Client Team at Clarion about any of the issues raised in this blog, please contact us through the website, by email at clare.king@clarionsolicitors.com by telephone 0113 336 3363 or find us on Twitter: @clarionpcteam

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