what happens to my private pension funds in the UK when i die
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No one ever plans for death, however, there are little things we do concerning death and retirement so as to keep living life without financial worries. One of them is the private pension plan/fund. A private pension in the UK is a type of savings plan in which you (as an employee) deposit a portion of your income or salary into a specified savings plan. The major goal of this strategy is to ensure a constant stream of income once you’ve completed your active duty years. For many in the UK, it is the largest savings pot they will ever have, yet the question of what happens to your private pension fund when you die is one that only a few people can confidently answer. This article promises to answer all the questions in your mind and settle any rising doubts you may have regarding it.


We’ll go over what happens to your private pension fund after you die in the UK.

To begin with, there are various sorts of private pension plans, including state, workplace, final salary, defined contribution, and private pensions. There are many factors to consider, including inheritance tax and pension beneficiary requirements. The age at which you die also affects your pension, with varying restrictions if you die before 65 or after 75.

Types Of Private Pension Plans In The UK

In the UK, there are two common types of private pensions. This knowledge will help you understand your own savings and plan for your future (if you don’t already have a pension fund). These two types of private pensions act differently if you die before you begin receiving benefits.

The following are the two types of private pension plans:

  • A defined contribution pension
  • A defined benefit pension

#1. A Defined Contribution Plan

These plans are sometimes known as a ‘money purchase’ pension or a pension pot. It could be a self-directed personal plan or a workplace pension set up by your company.

The pension provider invests the money that you or your company contributes over time. However, the size of your pension fund in retirement is controlled by your contributions and investment returns. If you die before the age of 75, your pension benefits are usually tax-free to your beneficiaries.

Also, if you die before retiring, the value of your savings will normally be given to the pension beneficiary you choose as a tax-free lump sum.

in the UK What happens to your defined contribution private pension fund if you die after you retire depends on your age and how you opted to withdraw an income from it—by purchasing an annuity or utilizing Flexi-Access drawdown to provide yourself with an income.

#2. A Defined Benefit Plan

This form of pension plan is becoming less common. It’s almost always set up by your employer, and it’s also known as a ‘final salary‘ or ‘career average’ pension.

Defined benefit plans guarantee you an annual pension worth a specified amount when you retire. Your pension is based on your earnings, duration of service, and the terms of your specific pension plan.

In this plan, your spouse or partner will likely receive a pension. It may also provide your children with a pension until they finish their education. More so, dependents end up receiving lower pensions than they’d have received.

What Happens To My Annuity When I Die?

An annuity is a financial product that pays you a fixed amount of money for the rest of your life and is purchased using money from your private pension fund. What happens next if you die while receiving an annuity payment depends on the sort of annuity you have.

If you’ve decided to use some or all of your private pension funds to purchase an annuity or life insurance, this income will normally stop when you die, leaving no money for your loved ones. However, some annuities, such as a joint-life annuity purchased with your spouse or partner, will continue to pay them an income even after you pass away.

When you die, your pension annuity stops, except for the following:

  • If you die within the first 90 days of starting your plan, your annuity’s value protection will be applied, and your estate will get a lump sum payment. If you have a dependent on your plan, the lump sum will only be paid if both of you die within this time frame, and it will go to the estate of the last one to die.
  • You pass away after 90 days, but your guarantee period is still active. Continued payments until the guarantee period expires, at which point they will be distributed to your estate or beneficiaries.
  • If a dependent is still living, an income is to be paid to them.
  • If you want to extend your value protection beyond the first 90 days of your plan’s commencement date, a lump sum payment may be made to your estate or the estate of a dependent.

What Happens To My Drawdown  Private Pension Fund When I Die In The UK?

If you use Flexi-access drawdown, in which your pension assets are invested and you receive an income as and when you need it, your dependants can continue enjoying an income from your pension without paying taxes if you die before the age of 75.

If you’re over 75 when you die, your beneficiary will have to pay income tax on your pension.

Are My Private Pension Funds Liable for Inheritance Tax?

In the UK, because drawdown is deemed outside your estate, it will be exempt from inheritance tax (IHT). However, if you withdraw money from your pension before you die, for example, to buy assets, this money will be deemed part of your estate and may be subject to IHT. There is no tax on estates valued up to £325,000, and with the £175,000 ‘main residence’ band, a total exemption of £500,000 per person is available. IHT is charged at a rate of 40% of the excess value of your estate over this amount.

Other Pension Inheritance Tax Rules Involved

If you die before starting to earn an income from your final salary pension and your scheme includes life insurance, your beneficiary will typically get a lump sum that is between two and four times your salary. If you die before the age of 75, they won’t have to pay any tax on this amount. They may also receive a ‘survivor’s pension,’ depending on the conditions of your specific plan, although this will be taxable.

If you die while receiving an income from your pot, your beneficiary would normally get a reduced pension until they die, depending on the regulations of your scheme.

If you’re not sure what benefits your loved ones will be entitled to when you pass away, contact your pension provider or scheme trustees and ask them to explain the provisions of your plan to you.

State Private Pension UK

In most cases, when you die, your State Pension will be terminated.

Your spouse or civil partner may inherit a portion of your State Pension in certain circumstances.

It’s important to note that a State Pension cannot be inherited by anyone other than a spouse or civil partner.

Inheriting a State Pension has a lot of rules. They are determined by how much you have saved and when you reach State Pension age.

Use the government’s tool on the GOV.UK website to see if your spouse/civil partner may be eligible to inherit additional State Pension entitlement.

Nominating Beneficiaries

Many pension plans will require you to name a beneficiary (usually via an Expression of Wish or Nomination form). As a result, you must inform them of your retirement plans and keep them informed of any changes.

Nominating Beneficiaries With A Defined Benefit Plan

If you have a defined benefit plan, any benefits you receive will be paid in accordance with the plan’s terms.

Important life events like marriage, divorce, spouse death, or childbirth require keeping your nomination up-to-date. This is so that the scheme’s trustees know who you’d prefer to receive any death benefits that may be due.

Remember that while the trustees will consider your wishes, they will ultimately decide who receives benefits.

As previously indicated, any pension death benefits received under the trustee’s or discretionary provider’s powers would not typically be included in your estate and hence would not be subject to Inheritance Tax.

Any dependent pensions owed to the member’s legal spouse or civil partner are normally paid to them.

In most cases, pensions may be paid to a partner who was financially dependent on the deceased member. It’s critical to verify your plan to see what happens if you pass away.

Nominating Beneficiaries With A Defined Contribution Plan

You have the option of nominating someone to receive your private pension fund when you pass away. However, who the pension is paid to is usually at the discretion of the provider or trustees who manage the pension.

They’ll take this into account if you’ve filled out an Expression of wish or nomination form. As a result, it’s critical that you keep these up-to-date. If you’ve already purchased a guaranteed income (annuity) with your pension fund, any income or lump payment will be paid only to the people you identified when you set up the annuity and according to the settings you choose.

Again, if pension plan managers have control over who receives death benefits, the benefits are often tax-free.

If no such option exists, the benefits will be paid out to the listed beneficiaries in the amounts you specify. But they may be subject to Inheritance Tax because they will be paid to your estate.


A pension is an investment for the long run. This asset’s value can fluctuate up and down, and it may be worth less than what was paid for it. It is possible that laws and tax rules will change in the future. As a result, your personal situation and where you reside in the UK will affect the tax treatment you receive.

Nevertheless, you should contact your pension provider or plan trustees in the UK to know what is likely to happen to your private pension when you die or just to know what the performance of your private pension fund has been. 


Who gets my private pension if I die?

You can nominate whoever you want to receive your pension fund when you die. However, it’s generally up to the discretion of the provider or trustees who look after the pension as to who it’s paid to.

Does pension go to next of kin

Based on the language in the pension plan, the pension may go automatically to the spouse. If the employee is not married at the time of his or her death, it may go to the children of the employee’s next of kin.

What happens to your private pension when you die UK?

The main pension rule governing defined benefit pensions in death is whether you were retired before you died. If you die before you retire your pension will pay out a lump sum worth 2-4 times your salary. If you’re younger than 75 when you die, this payment will be tax-free for your beneficiaries.

Can I collect my dad's pension?

When a retired worker passes away, pensions and other retirement benefits can pass on to loved ones. It is possible to inherit a pension from a parent, although retirement benefits typically pass on to surviving spouses before children

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The main pension rule governing defined benefit pensions in death is whether you were retired before you died. If you die before you retire your pension will pay out a lump sum worth 2-4 times your salary. If you're younger than 75 when you die, this payment will be tax-free for your beneficiaries.

" } } , { "@type": "Question", "name": "Can I collect my dad's pension?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "

When a retired worker passes away, pensions and other retirement benefits can pass on to loved ones. It is possible to inherit a pension from a parent, although retirement benefits typically pass on to surviving spouses before children

" } } ] }
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