Alberta permits electronic beneficiary designations for pension and retirement plans
On December 9, 2020, Alberta amended the Wills and Succession Act to permit beneficiaries to be designated electronically. The Alberta Superintendent of Pensions has published EPPA Update 20-07, which summarizes the change.
The amendment has the effect of enabling pension plans, Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs), Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs), locked-in retirement accounts (LIRAs), Life Income Funds (LIFs) and Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) to accept beneficiary designations that have been signed and filed electronically by Alberta members. Electronic beneficiary designations must comply the requirements of the Alberta Electronic Transactions Act to be valid. Beneficiary designations can still be made in paper format.
Alberta’s changes are similar to those in Ontario, where 2018 legislative changes explicitly permitted pension plans to accept electronic beneficiary designations (as discussed in the December 2018 News & Views). On May 12, 2020, Ontario extended electronic beneficiary designations to RRSPs, RRIFs, LIRAs, LIFs and TFSAs.
Pension and retirement plan administrators with Alberta members now have legislative support for accepting electronic beneficiary designations, provided that certain requirements are met.