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How to trace a lost pension

How to trace a lost pension
There’s a staggering £19.4bn worth of pensions currently lost or forgotten; if you trace your pensions, you may find that some of it could be yours
Millions of people are at risk of missing out on a more secure retirement because of this. There are multiple benefits to tracing lost and forgotten pensions.
Why not take the time to track down any missing pension pots and investigate your personal finances? There are actions you can take if you want control of any lost or miscellaneous pension pots.

Why should you trace your pensions?

The benefits of tracing your pensions include potential financial gain. Similarly, it makes access in the future and during retirement much easier.  You could be missing out on thousands of pounds. This is both through a loss of compound interest or from high fees you didn’t know you were paying.
"It can be harder to trace pensions if you have switched employers or moved home multiple times"
It can be harder to trace pensions if you have switched employers or moved home multiple times. Make sure to notify your pension provider each time!

How to trace old pensions

There are several ways in which you can begin to trace your old pensions. If you don’t have a recent pension statement, the best way to start your research is to contact your pension provider, if you know who they are. This will enable you to find out your current pension value and any additional benefits you may be entitled to.
If you cannot remember who your pension provider is, contact your former employers to find out about your old workplace pensions. They should be able to inform you of who your provider is.
If you can’t reach your previous employer for any reason, you can try the Pension Tracing Service. The Pension Tracing Service is a database of pension providers. It allows you to search your employer’s name and see if there’s a record of your pension provider. This is a free service provided by the UK Government.
Follow any paper trails you have access to. Look through any paperwork you have filed away, as well as any old emails you may have access to. You may find communications from your pension providers which will help you trace any pension pots you may have forgotten about.
"Going over your employment history may offer insight into your previous pension schemes and providers"
Similarly, going over your employment history may offer insight into your previous pension schemes and providers. Old employment contracts, payslips and documents could give reference to pension deductions and scheme providers.

How to contact your pension provider

When you have gathered information about your current or previous pension providers, you can begin to contact them. Make sure you have as much information as possible to hand. For example, your date of birth and national insurance number.
Having an estimate of when your previous plans were set up and any policy numbers is also extremely helpful. You are entitled to ask any questions you wish, provided you have passed the security checks. Asking about the current value of your pension pot is a good question to start with.
You may also wish to discuss what your current scheme offers in terms of benefits, whether there are any deductions or charges as the result of management fees and who the nominated beneficiary is in the instance of death. If you are interested in moving your pension, it’s a good idea to ask if there are any exit fees associated with doing this.
Of course, asking the age at which you will have access to your pension is a key piece of information you should be aware of. Unless you meet strict criteria, most people can’t access their pensions until the age of 55, rising to 57 from 2028.
Image source: Monster Ztudio, Shutterstock

Consolidating and combining your pension pots

Companies such as PensionBee can help savers combine their pensions into one plan with a few personal details. They'll ask for some basic information from you to begin with. For example, your address, NI number and date of birth. They may ask for the name of your old pension provider and your policy number if you have it. The more information you can provide, the faster they will be able to find and combine your pensions.
Consolidating your pensions into one pot can be beneficial. It enables you to see your retirement savings in one place, so you can work out if you’re on the right track, or if you’ll need to increase your contributions to reach your retirement goals. It also gives you the opportunity to do your research and move all your pension pots to one provider with lower fees, or one that better fits your values or investment needs.
However, before you move or combine your pension pots, it is essential that you check you will not lose any special benefits you may be entitled to if you transfer. Such benefits include guaranteed annuity rate.
"Before you move or combine your pension pots, check that you will not lose any benefits if you transfer"
Overall, the imperative thing is to know where your retirement savings are located. It's beneficial to keep an eye on your accounts. When you have a handle on your pension pots, whether in a consolidated pot or multiple accounts, remember to monitor the performance of your investments. Also, check how much you're paying in fees regularly.
Make sure you tell your provider about any new jobs or changes to your address. Most importantly, continue your ongoing contributions to set yourself up for retirement!
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Disclaimer: MoneyMagpie is not a licensed financial advisor and therefore information found here including opinions, commentary, suggestions or strategies are for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only. This should not be considered as financial advice. Anyone thinking of investing should conduct their own due diligence.

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