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Spousal Protection Under Pension Plans

Death Benefits

When you die, any benefits payable from a pension plan, locked-in retirement account, or life income fund will be automatically payable to your spouse or common-law partner. If you do not have a spouse or common-law partner, the death benefits are payable to your designated beneficiary. If you have not named a beneficiary, death benefits will go to your estate. If you have a spouse or common-law partner, but designate another person as your beneficiary under a pension plan, locked-in retirement account or life income fund, the beneficiary designation is not recognized. The death benefit is still payable to the spouse or common-law partner.

Joint and Survivor Pensions

If you have a spouse or common-law partner when you retire, your pension must be payable as a joint and survivor pension. This means that your pension will be payable in its full value up to your death. When you die, a specified percentage of your pension will continue to be paid to your spouse up to their death. This percentage is set out in your plan, but must be at least 60 per cent.

For example:
Alice retires at age 65 with a joint and 75 per cent survivor pension of $900 per month. When she dies at age 72, her common-law partner Fred will continue to receive a monthly pension of $675 which is 75 per cent of $900.

If you have a spouse or common-law partner, you can only elect to have your pension payable in a non-joint and survivor form if your spouse or common-law partner has waived their rights to your pension. To do this, they must sign a form called "Waiver of Joint and Survivor Pension" in the 12-month period before the pension commences. This is "Form 4" in the regulations.

Division of Pension Benefits on Relationship Breakdown

If your marriage or common law relationship ends, your pension funds might need to be shared with the other person. The Pension Benefits Act calls this "subject to division." This provision applies if your marriage or common-law relationship ends while you

For more information on this topic, see "Understanding the Division of Benefits for Separating Spouses"



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Mailing Address:
Finance and Treasury Board
Pension Regulation Division
PO Box 2531
Halifax, NS  B3J 3N5

Phone: 902-424-8915, weekdays 8:30 - 4:30.
Fax: 902-424-5327
Email: 
novascotia.ca

Courier:
Finance and Treasury Board
Pension Regulation Division
1723 Hollis St, 4th Floor
Halifax, NS  B3J 1V9




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