If you die before you start receiving retirement income, the nature of your survivor’s benefits depends on
whether you have a spouse.
Spouses have certain rights and entitlements to pension funds.
Should you die before you retire, your spouse (married or common-law*) has
first claim to your pension funds and investment earnings as defined by
pension laws – even if you designate a different person as beneficiary.
It is not necessary to name a spouse as a beneficiary for this reason. Note that most jurisdictions allow your spouse to waive this entitlement.
Should your spouse die before you, any named beneficiary(ies) will receive your pension benefits (net income tax).
*The definition of a spouse varies by province/territory. Please refer to the definition of spouse according to the provincial/federal pension legislation noted on your CSS Pension Plan annual statement.
If you are separated
If you die before you retire, your separated spouse may still have first claim to your pension benefits.
Contact us to determine if this applies to your particular case.
Although your spouse has first claim to your (and your employer's) required contributions, he or she may not have first claim to any
additional voluntary contributions (AVCs) (and related earnings) you may have made.
If you die before you retire, any AVCs would be paid to your designated beneficiary(ies) or estate.
If you designated someone other than your spouse or if you direct your funds to be paid to your estate, the funds would be paid as a lump sum and subject to income tax.
If you do not have a spouse, or if your spouse waives the first claim to your pension funds, you can designate a beneficiary (or beneficiaries) to receive your pre-retirement pension funds. Otherwise your pension funds would be paid to your estate.
Choosing a beneficiary other than your estate may:
You should consult your lawyer and/or accountant to review the tax effect of your designation.
If you choose to designate minors* as beneficiaries, we suggest you name an adult trustee in the area indicated on the Plan's
Designation of Beneficiary form.
Otherwise, any pension benefits left to minors will be payable to provincial authorities to be invested and administered on their behalf until they become adults.
*A minor is a person under the age of majority in each province/territory
Your beneficiary (spouse or primary beneficiary only) is listed on your CSS Pension Plan annual statement and myCSSPEN profile.
Here are the steps to take if you choose to designate or change a beneficiary:
Rules of the Plan also permit you to designate a beneficiary or revoke a previous designation in your Will.
The designation must specifically refer to your CSS pension funds to be effective.
If you choose to designate, change or revoke a designated beneficiary through your Will rather than by completing and forwarding a Designation of Beneficiary form to the CSS Pension Plan, you should consult your lawyer.
If you die after you start receiving retirement income, your survivor’s benefits depend on the type of
retirement income option you chose.
Joint and Last Survivor Pension
Single Life Pension
If you die before the guarantee period ends, then the monthly pension payments will continue to your beneficiary(ies) or estate for the rest of the guarantee period, and then stop.
If you have a spouse
Under pension laws, your surviving spouse is automatically entitled to all the funds remaining in your VB account, if any, when you die (unless your spouse waives this right).
If you don't have a spouse (or if your spouse waives entitlement)
Your VB account balance is paid as a lump sum (subject to income tax) to your named beneficiary(ies) or estate.
In all provinces and territories where the Plan operates, legislation settles the order of succession to your property if you and your beneficiary die in a common accident.
You may wish to consult your lawyer to designate an alternate beneficiary in your Will.