Who is the beneficiary and how is the beneficiary designated?

As an RRSP issuer, you have to determine who is designated as the beneficiary before you pay out any amounts. The beneficiary may be designated in the RRSP contract or in the deceased annuitant's will.

Designation in RRSP contract

If the beneficiary is designated in the RRSP contract, the amounts are to be paid to that person. If no beneficiary is named in the RRSP contract, but the estate is named, the amounts are to be paid to the estate.

Designation in will

If the designation is made in the will, you make the payout to the estate. The legal representative of the estate (executor or liquidator) is responsible for determining the amount each beneficiary will receive according to the will. The legal representative will also determine if the amount can be treated as a refund of premiums.

If a qualifying survivor is designated as a beneficiary, that beneficiary and the legal representative of the estate can jointly elect to treat part or all the amounts paid to the estate as received by them as a refund of premiums. This allows the transfer of these funds to a permitted investment. To do so, the beneficiary and the legal representative of the estate must fill out Form T2019, Death of an RRSP Annuitant – Refund of Premiums.


In Quebec, a beneficiary cannot be designated in an RRSP contract. The designation has to be made in the will for these types of contracts. If you are satisfied with the designation of the beneficiary as provided in the will and the other conditions are met, you can issue the slip as if the designation were made in the RRSP contract.

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