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Once in a Blue Moon

January 2018 is a very special month; the month’s first full Moon, the Full Wolf Moon, rose on New Year’s Day. What a great way to start the year! A second full Moon (a Blue Moon) rises on the 31st, and brings the year’s only eclipse for North America just before dawn. Both of January’s full Moons are Super Moons -  a full moon at the closest distance that the Moon reaches to Earth in its elliptic orbit.

In Native American and early Colonial times, the January full moon was called the Wolf Moon as it was the time when wolves howled in hunger outside the villages. It is also called the Old Moon and the Snow Moon.

When two full Moons occur within one calendar month, the second is called a Blue Moon, which owing to the rarity of two full moons in one month gave rise to the phrase “once in a blue moon”.

Unexpected deaths happen “once in a blue moon”, which often means that all the paperwork is not in place. An area that is often overlooked is the death nomination forms in respect of pension benefits. When you arrive in a job, you are often greeted with a raft of forms to complete and one of these is usually expressing your wishes on whom you would wish a lump sum to be paid in the event that you die. Increasingly with these forms being online, it is easy to complete and forget it. We all know that relationships change so it is a really good idea to look at the form each year to see if it is still appropriate.

Similarly, dependants’ pensions may be paid however, in some instances the scheme needs you to specify who is your dependant. Failure to do this could mean that the scheme is unable to pay a pension to someone who has been your partner for many years.

Top tips

  • Complete your “expression of wishes” nomination form for the lump sum and/or dependants’ pensions.
  • Keep a copy.
  • Review it every year (not just for your current scheme but all the schemes that you have been in).
  • You can express your wishes taking into account different scenarios; for example “I would like the money to go to my wife but if she is no longer alive, it should be split equally between our children.”

These simple actions should ensure that the death benefit is paid to the right people with minimal delays.

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