Nyatsi can be your beneficiary

The dependants that one elects may not be the sole beneficiaries of that person's pension or retirement fund when they die.
The dependants that one elects may not be the sole beneficiaries of that person's pension or retirement fund when they die.
Image: 123RF

The dependants you elect may not be the sole beneficiaries of your pension or retirement fund when you die, as anyone who can prove they depended on you economically - including a mistress - may share in the benefits.

Charlson Raphadana, a senior assistant adjudicator at the Pension Funds Adjudicator, says your pension benefits could even be distributed to someone to whom you are not legally married nor have children with.

Raphadana was addressing attendees of a series of the Money Smart Week workshops in Alexandra this week.

The Money Smart Week is an initiative backed by the National Treasury, the finance minister, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority and stakeholders in the financial services industry. Financial literacy sessions will also be held in Mamelodi, Tembisa and Soweto.

Raphadana says that while you may have completed a benefit beneficiary form with your employer stating who should get what portion of your pension fund savings upon your death, it becomes a "wish list" once you die.

This is because the lump sum death benefit that is payable from your retirement fund has to be apportioned fairly to all your "economic dependents" should you die before retirement.

There was an uproar of disbelief from women at the session who asked: "What if you did not know that your husband had children outside of your marriage?"

Raphadana explains that section 37C of the Pension Funds Act governs the distribution and the payment of lump sum benefits from your fund if you die before retirement.

These benefits, known as death benefits, are payable from your pension, provident, and/or retirement annuity fund, and are treated separately from the money and other assets in your estate.

Raphadana says if your mistress, or anyone else, can provide proof that you were supporting them regularly, be it in the form of receipts or payments made via electronic funds transfers, they may be eligible for a portion of your death benefits.

"The key is that those who used to benefit from a man or woman prior to their death should still benefit. Be it biological or not."

Dependants could be your children under the age of 18 years or older if they were not supporting themselves, a partner and their children, grandparents and other relatives.

And your legal spouse may not be regarded as dependant if it can be proven that he or she was no longer financially dependent on you when you died.

"Being married does not mean you have access to death benefits," Raphadana says.

Funds will also be allocated on the basis of need when it comes to children.

"A child in grade 8 will have a greater allocation than your child who has completed schooling, with the focus being on whether the member used to support them or not."

Raphadana says your retirement fund's board of trustees has an obligation to investigate who all your dependents are before they allocate the money. Their investigations can extend to asking colleagues and neighbours who were the people who depended on you.

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