All About Estates

Electronic Beneficiary Designations: an Interesting Change to the Pension Benefits Act

On November 15th, the Provincial Government released the Fall Economic Statement, and its accompanying implementation Bill. Bill 57, Restoring Trust, Transparency and Accountability Act, 2018,[1] contains 45 schedules, each relating to amendments to a different statute.

Buried in Bill 57, in a single line of Schedule 33, is an interesting amendment to the Pension Benefits Act:

New section 30.1.1 is added to the Act to allow for electronic designation of beneficiaries.

More specifically, the new section reads as follows:

30.1.1 (1) Despite anything to the contrary in the Succession Law Reform Act, an administrator may permit members, former members and retired members to designate beneficiaries electronically for the purposes of any provision in this Act permitting the designation of a beneficiary.

(2) The administrator shall comply with any prescribed requirements respecting the electronic designation of beneficiaries.

Of note, this change has only been proposed for pension benefits. No similar change has been proposed for registered accounts, like RRSPs and TFSAs, or insurance policies.

If and when Bill 57 is passed into law, it will be interesting to see how this provision is practically implemented – for example, what safeguards will be in place to ensure that it is, in fact, the member who is making a beneficiary designation? Is there a risk of a member making a designation without sufficient capacity?

Stay tuned…


About Emily Hubling
Emily Hubling is a partner in the Trusts, Wills, Estates and Charities group at Fasken. Emily has experience in advising estate trustees in administering a range of complex estate matters, including intestacies, cross-border matters, and contested estates. Working closely with clients’ advisors, Emily prepares Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Trusts to assist clients in fulfilling their unique estate-planning objectives.


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