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Pillar 3a savings

Who will actually inherit my pillar 3a money?

What happens to the money you have saved in pillar 3 if you die before retirement?

Gerhard Buri
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I have savings in pillar 3a. Who inherits if I die before drawing my pension?

That depends primarily on your marital status. If you’re married or in a civil partnership, your pension assets go to your spouse or registered partner first. This is set out in the “beneficiary­ ordinance”, which stipulates which of your ­family members are entitled to your 3a assets – and in what ­order – in the event of your death.

Who is second on the list?

The second level of beneficiaries includes the following four groups of people: your direct descendants; the person who provides for the maintenance of any shared child­­ren; the person with whom you lived in an uninterrupted cohabitation during the five years prior to your death; persons whom you supported financially to a significant extent whilst you were alive.

This is followed by the third level, which includes your ­parents, your siblings and then your other heirs.

What you can choose freely

Important! You must adhere to the legal order ­within levels one and two­. From the second level onwards, however, you can freely choose the amount and, in the third level, you can also choose the ­order of beneficiaries.

For example, if you have been living in a cohabiting relationship for at least five years, you can name your partner ­as a beneficiary. If you still have adult children from your first marriage, you can divide the pension assets between them and your partner­ at your own discretion­. For example, it would be permissible to give your partner ­the ­entire­ pension assets – provided your children receive at least 50 per cent of the total estate assets­, including pension assets.

In writing, please

If you wish to make certain arrangements for the inheritance of your 3a assets, you must inform your pension provider of these in writing. Incidentally, you can change these arrangements again at any time.

Tip: the exact provisions governing the ­inheritance of pension assets may vary depending on the pension provider. You should therefore seek advice when planning your estate.

Gerhard Buri is a Migros Bank customer advisor and a pension expert

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