14 Jun

Mr Ranson Dube loved his family and always wanted the best for them. He would sacrifice spending time with them during weekends, instead spending most of his time at work to supplement his salary so that he could provide for them. He wanted to send his children to the best schools.

Unfortunately, Mr Dube lost his battle with cancer after having tried several treatments, which cost a lot of money, some of which was borrowed from friends and relatives.

With the breadwinner gone, leaving behind a mountain of debts, the family had one option; sell their house, clear the debts and relocate to their rural home. The first-born twins, Patrick and Portia, who were due to write their Ordinary Level examinations in six months’ time would have to defer their examinations.

There was not enough money to pay for their examination fees.

As the family consulted the extended family about the price of the house, one Uncle, Baba Mavis, enquired whether there was no pension scheme at his late brother’s workplace.

That is when they asked his former workmates, who confirmed that indeed he had been contributing to a pension scheme at work.

While this was supposed to be good news, the family did not expect much. After all, if there were significant savings, the deceased would have told them about it and there would have been no reason to borrow for his hospital bills.

With resigned faces, the family reluctantly approached the pension fund to ask how much was in the late’ pension pot.

They expected just enough to transport some household goods to their rural home in Chivhu. But they were shocked when Tsitsi at the pension fund told them how much was due to them as beneficiaries.

The money was enough to settle the debts, pay examinations fees for Patrick and Portia as well as school fees for their siblings; Peter, who was in form three, Petros in form one and the last born, Petronella, in grade six.

Imagine what would have happened to the family if Baba Mavis had not asked about the deceased’s pension savings.

That is why it is important for people who are contributing towards pension savings or have life policies to disclose this to their families so that they can claim in the event of the member dying.

Myths are told about how married couples do not disclose the existence of pension savings or life policies to their families, fearing that the spouse may be tempted to kill them so that they get the benefits.

This is far-fetched. It is important for families to disclose the existence of pension savings or life policies.

Failure to do that may result in the remaining family living in abject poverty, downgrading their lifestyle or, worse still, selling their only house to clear debts left behind by the deceased and relocating to their rural home.

Yet there would be money at the pension fund, which could go a long way in reducing the burden of losing a loved one, who was probably the breadwinner.

Records submitted to the Insurance and Pensions Commission by pension funds and administrators indicate that there were about 59 000 members who have not claimed their benefits to the tune of about $31 million as at 31 December 2019.

It is possible that some of these members may have died but their beneficiaries have not claimed the money because they do not know about its existence.

Therefore, it is important to disclose the existence of pension savings or life policies to the family so that they can get what is due to them.