MONEY CLINIC | My ex-wife recently passed. Do I have claim to her pension fund?

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A Fin24 reader who was married in community of property for 25 years and divorced for 10 years wants to know if he has any entitlement to his deceased ex-wife's pension fund.

He writes:

I was married in community of property to my late wife who died in June this year. She was 56 years of age.

We divorced in 2010 after 25 years of marriage. She was a public servant for 20 years until she took ill health in 2011.

Am I entitled to part of her pension fund?

Simon Dippenaar, Founder and Managing Partner at Simon Dippenaar & Associates responds: 

Unfortunately, he will not be entitled to claim from his ex-wife's pension fund, unless:

He was dependent on her (i.e. she assisted him financially on a monthly basis) - he would then be required to depose to an affidavit confirming this and send it to the pension fund. The trustees of the fund will then make a decision regarding who the funds are paid out to and what portion of the funds are paid to each dependent/elected beneficiary; or

He was the elected beneficiary on the pension fund - if his late ex-wife had no dependents and he was nominated as the beneficiary on the policy; or

The divorce decree made provision for it - if the divorce decree stipulated that he would receive a portion of her pension fund after the date of divorce or upon the fund paying out. 

He would then need to send a copy of the decree to the pension fund, and they would action it accordingly. If the decree stipulated that he should receive a portion of her pension fund within a short period after the divorce, the pension fund will look at the value of her pension at the time of the divorce (as this is when the division of the joint estate is calculated), and not at the time of her passing.

Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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