April 3, 2013
In the National Post’s article “Common-law spouses lose death benefits; Pension case,” Douglas Rienzo, a pensions lawyer at Osler, comments on the implications of the SCC’s decision to decline hearing the Carrigan appeal.
Drew Hasselback, National Post; The Calgary Herald Discoveries; Pg. E6
The [Carrigan] case provides a dramatic shift in the way pension plan administrators must deal with the death benefits for spouses of plan members. For years, plan administrators understood that such benefits should go to common law spouses. Yet as the Ontario Court of Appeal interprets the province's pension statute in Carrigan Estate, the benefits should go to legally married spouses - even after a couple has been separated for a long time.
"The Carrigan case changed not only how pension plan administrators must pay pre-retirement death benefits in the future, it also called into question past payments of pre-retirement death benefits which had been made in similar circumstances, creating the risk of legal claims from deceased members' named beneficiaries or estates," said Douglas Rienzo, a partner in the Toronto office of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.
The full article is available in print in the National Post, FP9; and The Calgary Herald, E6.