Death benefits - nominating beneficiaries

Here are some of the more frequently asked questions we've been asked about nominee flexi-access drawdown and successor flexi-access drawdown.

They can't dictate what form of death benefit the spouse can receive; nor can they influence what happens on the spouse's death.

All they can do is state who they'd like death benefits to be paid to on their death. If the scheme administrator is using their discretion, they use this information as a guide when deciding on the beneficiaries.

What format the death benefits take is down to the beneficiary who will choose from the options the scheme offers. If they choose flexi-access drawdown, they will be asked who they want any remaining funds to be paid to on their death.

If each succeeding beneficiary chooses nominee or successor flexi-access drawdown, it's possible for the death benefits to pass down the generations. However as each generation can withdraw as much or as little as they like, the number of generations receiving benefits is likely to be limited.

HMRC Pensions Tax Manual PTM000001: Nominee

HMRC Pensions Tax Manual PTM000001: Successor

They do if they want the death benefits split in these proportions.

However if they're nominating, say the children so that they can be offered the option of flexi-access drawdown, it would be less confusing to state the reason for nominating the children on an attached piece of paper.

The next question gives an example of when it might be useful to do this. 

If they were dependent on the planholder, they could. If they weren't dependent on them, this option would only be available if they had nominated them.

Non-dependent children who haven’t been nominated could only be paid a lump sum death benefit.

So if an individual wants non-dependent children to have flexi-access drawdown as an option while a dependant is alive, they will need to be nominated.

HMRC Pensions Tax Manual PTM000001: Nominee

The nomination form is being used for two purposes.

  • One is to tell the scheme administrator how they want death benefits to be split on their death (if in fact that's what they want to happen).
  • The other is to nominate a beneficiary so that they can receive nominee flexi-access drawdown if need be.

The plan holder can explain their wishes on a separate sheet of paper attached to the nomination form.

HMRC Pensions Tax Manual PTM000001: Nominee

A: A dependant or named beneficiary can choose to take their benefits as nominee or successor flexi-access drawdown. The scheme administrator can only nominate a beneficiary to receive flexi-access drawdown where there is no surviving dependant or named beneficiary. If there is a surviving dependant or member nominee, the scheme administrator wouldn't be able to pay flexi-access drawdown to anyone else; only lump sums could be paid.

Apart from being good practice, it is imperative that the plan holder nominates and keeps their nominated beneficiaries up to date if they want them to have access to all death benefit options available under the scheme including flexi-access drawdown.

HMRC Pensions Tax Manual PTM000001: Nominee

HMRC Pensions Tax Manual PTM000001: Successor


The information provided is based on our current understanding of the relevant legislation and regulations and may be subject to alteration as a result of changes in legislation or practice. Also it may not reflect the options available under a specific product which may not be as wide as legislations and regulations allow.

All references to taxation are based on our understanding of current taxation law and practice and may be affected by future changes in legislation and the individual circumstances of the investor.

Share by email:

Share by email:

This website is intended for financial advisers only and shouldn't be relied upon by any other person. If you are not an adviser please visit

The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. The firm is on the Financial Services Register, registration number 117672. It provides life assurance and pensions. Registered in England and Wales number 99064. Registered office: 55 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0RL.