Hundreds of armed forces service personnel are leaving their death in service benefits to the wrong person, it has emerged.
Hilary Meredith Solicitors has been made aware of a situation where a serviceman was asked to nominate someone to receive his death in service benefit relating to his armed forces pension lump sum some years ago. He did this and married some years later. He was also advised to make a Will, which he did after his marriage and leaving everything to his wife. He was sadly killed in an accident a few weeks later. Unfortunately, he did not change his death in service nomination form and his lump sum benefit was paid to someone else in contravention of his wishes.
Said Kristel Clarke, Wills and Probate Solicitor at Hilary Meredith Solicitors:
“Military divorce rates are double those for civilians – and this impacts on any member of the armed forces who has remarried or started a new relationship since completing their original death in service nomination form.
“Service personnel are often encouraged to complete a death in service nomination form before they are deployed on operation but not necessarily advised on the implications of this and not subsequently advised to reflect on it again in the future.”
“As far as the Ministry of Defence is concerned, the nomination form takes precedence of any Will.
“There is no discretion on this by the Ministry of Defence. In the wider civilian practice, it is generally at the discretion of the trustees as to who to make the payment to. The trustees will take into consideration the wishes expressed on the nomination form, but will not necessarily follow them. More importantly, if they believe the wishes to be out of date they can choose not to follow them and instead consider any Will, marriage or request from family members – ultimately using their discretion. This is in direct contrast to the practice of the Ministry of Defence.”
Hilary Meredith Solicitors is urging service personnel to:
Speak to the MoD regarding their nomination form and if necessary ask to amend it
Consider any death in service/pension nominations if there is a death/birth/marriage/divorce or other significant life event
If they are going on a tour, ask to see their previous nominations to decide whether any changes are required