Nobody loves filling out forms, but when it comes to matters of life and death, those documents can be vitally important – and here’s why.
When Police staff join the Police Association and sign up to the Police Welfare Fund, they have the option of filling out a Police Group Life Insurance Benefit Nomination Form.
The form is important because it fulfils requirements related to either your death or the death of your spouse or partner, and, in either of those events, who will receive money from the fund. The payouts vary, up to a maximum of $250,000, depending on employment status and age.
Under the “Life Benefit” portion of the form, you can name one or more people who will receive a payout if you die.
Under the “Partner Life Benefit” portion of the form (constabulary only), if your partner dies, you will receive a payout. Simple enough? Well, the thing is, people’s lives and relationships can change, sometimes quite dramatically, and if you don’t keep your benefit nominations up to date, the outcomes may not be what you would have wanted.
Police Welfare Fund manager Pete Hayes has a few cautionary tales about how things can go horribly wrong, and some good news.
For example, consider the case of the single man who nominated his good friend and neighbour as the person who should receive his “death benefit”. They were the best of mates, but, as time went on, they had a serious falling out. So, serious, in fact, that when the member died, the neighbour didn’t attend the funeral. But, because the member had not updated his nomination form, the neighbour received a significant payout. Wouldn’t that make you squirm in your grave?
Another single member had been raised by a solo mother, with no contact with his father. Sadly, the member died young, killed in a vehicle accident. Because he had failed to fill out his benefit nomination form at all and had no will, the benefit money went to his estate and the absent father was able to claim half of the money. It’s quite likely that is not what the son would have wanted.
The vagaries of personal relationships are a minefield when it comes to payouts.
As Pete says, oversights can result in unfairness, particularly when it comes to the needs of children.
A man left his wife and three children and entered into a new relationship. He updated his benefit nomination form to include his new partner. As it turned out, the relationship did not last and he reconciled with his wife. When he died not long afterwards, it transpired that he had not changed back his form. Not a good result for the family.
Or, what about this case of a member who died in an accident. At the time, he was in a relatively new relationship and had fallen out with his parents over the new partner. His benefit nomination form had been made out to his parents, who duly received the payout. As it turned out, the rift was so bad, the parents didn’t even attend their son’s funeral.
Outside of such complications, Pete says, the payouts can be a blessing to grieving families. If the forms are filled out correctly, the money is outside the auspices of the estate, so there can be no claims from other parties or delays due to probate. “We also pay out $10,000 of the money immediately to the spouse or partner, or other nominated person, within 24 hours. That helps with funeral costs or, for example, flying in family from other places.”
And, to clarify, for the purposes of the Partner Life Benefit, a partner or spouse is defined as someone who is “perceived by your peers” to be in a relationship with you. So, that could be your significant other who lives in another house. As long as your friends see you as a couple, that’s kosher.
The Welfare Fund team deals with benefit nomination form changes from members daily. So, don’t delay.
- If your circumstances have changed, make sure your form is up to date. Visit the Life Insurances section of our website, or contact our Member Services Centre, 0800 500 122.
- The same rules apply to your will and for advice on that, see the Estate Planning section of the website.
- For details of the life benefit payment that applies to you, visit the Insurances section of the website.