Private pension plans: Survivor’s rights

If your spouse has vested rights to a pension, your rights to a survivor’s pension are also vested in the event of his or her death.  You will collect a survivor’s pension unless you have given a written waiver.

If the deceased spouse is retired and currently receiving pension benefits, the surviving spouse is usually entitled to continue to receive retirement benefits.  Make sure your estate representative knows how to change the name on the retirement account to the surviving spouse.

If the deceased person has not retired, the surviving spouse may still be eligible to receive pension benefits.  The surviving spouse should check with the Human Resources department where the deceased worked.  At that time, he or she can find out what type of procedure is required to claim survivor benefits.