When you enroll in the Plan, you are required to name a beneficiary who will receive the death benefit if you die before you begin receiving your pension.
If you are single, you may name any person or an organization as a beneficiary.
If you have a spouse, he or she is automatically your beneficiary.
To name or change your beneficiary(ies), you must complete a Designation of Beneficiary form.
Definition of a spouse
A spouse is the person married to the employee. If the employee is not married, the spouse is the person in a common-law relationship with the employee. Your spouse is:
- the person to whom you are legally married; or
- if you are not married, the person with whom you are living in a conjugal relationship, and to whom at least one of the following situations applies. He or she:
- has been living with you in a conjugal relationship for at least 12 continuous months;
- is the parent of your child by birth or adoption; or
- has custody and control of your child (or had custody and control immediately before the child turned 19 years of age) and your child is wholly dependent on that person for support.
The Plan recognizes only one spouse at a time. A legally married spouse takes priority over another person, even if that person meets the definition of a common-law spouse.
A spousal relationship with someone to whom you are not married ceases upon a separation of at least 90 days due to a breakdown in your relationship. The individual immediately resumes being your spouse if you resume living together in a conjugal relationship.
A spousal relationship with someone to whom you are legally married ceases upon divorce.
You have four options when it comes to naming your beneficiaries:
- Your spouse as your primary beneficiary;
- Your spouse as your primary beneficiary plus contingent beneficiaries, in the event your spouse dies before you;
- Your spouse as a contingent beneficiary along with other beneficiaries; or
- Designated beneficiaries only.
If you do not have a spouse or named beneficiary, your death benefit will be paid to your estate. The estate will receive your death benefit as a taxable payment, less withholding tax.
Spouse as primary beneficiary
If you name your spouse as your primary beneficiary, your spouse will receive your total death benefit when you die.
If your spouse dies before you and you have not named a contingent beneficiary, your estate will receive your total death benefit as a taxable payment, less withholding tax.
Spouse and contingent beneficiaries
If you name your spouse as the primary beneficiary and also name contingent beneficiaries, your spouse will receive your total death benefit if you die. A contingent beneficiary receives a death benefit only if your spouse dies before you.
You can name any individual or entity as an contingent beneficiary. If you name someone under the age of 18, you must also name a trustee who will ensure that the benefit is paid to the child.
A designated beneficiary is any individual or entity. If you have a spouse, your spouse must sign a Spouse’s Waiver of Pre-Retirement Survivor Benefit form before you can name a designated beneficiary.
If you name a designated beneficiary or beneficiaries, each will receive the portion of your death benefit indicated on the Designation of Beneficiary form.
To learn more, read MEPP In-Depth - Designation of Beneficiary (Before Retirement) or refer to Death Benefits.