Waiving spousal rights
Your spouse is automatically the beneficiary of your pension. Learn what's involved if your spouse wants to give up their right to receive a pension benefit when you die.
Your spouse is automatically the beneficiary of your pension unless they formally give up their rights to your future pension benefit.
This means that:
- If you die before you retire, your spouse will be paid a lump-sum payment or an immediate monthly pension, depending on your age at death
- If you die after you retire, depending on the pension option you chose at retirement, your spouse may continue to receive a portion of your pension benefit
Your spouse can choose to give up their right to these pension benefits by signing a waiver. You can then name a beneficiary other than your spouse to receive your pension benefit.
Giving up spousal rights before retirement
Your spouse can waive their beneficiary rights to the pension benefit they are entitled to receive if you die before starting a pension. If your spouse does this, you can name someone other than your spouse as your beneficiary.
For your spouse to waive their right to your pension benefit, they must:
- Submit Form 4 Spouse’s waiver of beneficiary right to benefits in a pension plan, locked-in retirement account, life income fund or annuity before pension or annuity payments start
After your spouse has submitted a witnessed Form 4, you can designate a beneficiary other than your spouse to receive your pension benefit if you die before starting a pension. Submit the Nomination of beneficiary (pre-retirement) form to name your beneficiary.
If your spouse waives their right to your pre-retirement pension benefit by signing Form 4, your pension benefit will be paid as a lump-sum payment to the beneficiary or beneficiaries you have named on the Nomination of beneficiary (pre-retirement) form if you die before you retire.
Giving up spousal rights at or after retirement
Your spouse can submit a form to give up one or both of the following:
- Their right to a minimum 60 per cent lifetime survivor’s benefit if you die after you retire (by initialling Waiver A on the form)
- Their beneficiary right to receive a guaranteed monthly pension for a specific time period if you die after you retire and you chose a pension option with a guaranteed time period (by initialling Waiver B on the form)
If your spouse gives up their right to a minimum 60 per cent lifetime survivor's benefit (by initialling Waiver A), they are still the beneficiary of the guaranteed period of your pension, unless they give up this right by initialling Waiver B. When initialling Waiver A, your spouse must indicate how they want to receive benefits from the plan if you die:
- If you chose a joint life option, your spouse must select the "Lifetime payments that are ___%" box and enter the percentage (below 60%) that your spouse wants to receive
- If you chose a single life option, your spouse can select the "Payments during the ___-year guarantee period" and enter the number of years you as the spouse want to be covered over the remainder of the guarantee period if the plan member dies before the end of the guarantee period
Your spouse can also give up their beneficiary right to receive a pension benefit if you die before the end of the guaranteed period (Waiver B). Your spouse can give up this right at any time within the guaranteed period and before your death.
To give up these rights, your spouse must submit Form 2 Spouse’s waiver of 60% lifetime survivor benefit and/or beneficiary rights from a pension plan or annuity after payments start. The earliest your spouse can give up their right to a minimum 60 per cent lifetime survivor's benefit (Waiver A) is 90 days from your pension effective date. Your spouse can give up their beneficiary rights to a guaranteed monthly pension (Waiver B) at any time within the guarantee period and before the plan member's death.