Wrong or misleading information: case 1

Mrs K complained that her late husband’s pension scheme had given him an incorrect estimate of the widow’s pension she would receive.

Many years before the complaint arose the pension scheme had told Mr K that if he died before her she would get a pension equivalent to half of his.

Some time later Mr K made a will leaving money to Mrs K and smaller, though substantial, amounts to his grown up children from an earlier marriage.

When Mr K died the scheme said that Mrs K’s entitlement was a much lower proportion of his pension.

Mrs K said that Mr K would have organised his finances differently and, in particular, made a different will leaving more to her and less to his grown up children.

We asked for evidence from the solicitor who drew up the will. She confirmed Mrs K’s view of what Mr K had taken into account.

We decided that the evidence strongly supported a view that the level of income Mrs K would receive on his death was a significant factor in her late husband’s financial planning.

Mrs K’s late husband might have rechecked the position before arranging his will. But as there was nothing obviously wrong with the information he had been given originally, there was no reason why he shouldn’t have relied on it.

The will showed that Mr K’s first priority was to provide for his wife. It followed that if he had known her pension would be less he would have allocated Mrs K more of his estate.

Acknowledging that it was not possible to know quite what Mr K would have done, but taking into account the information that we had, we directed that the scheme should pay £37,000 to cover the loss, plus interest and compensation for distress.