Canada Life found that only 39% of people could confirm their expression of wish form was up-to-date.
The company says out of date expression of wish forms can lead to delays when trustees are making payments to beneficiaries or, in the worst case scenario, lead to the wrong beneficiaries receiving payment.
Andrew Tully, technical director at Canada Life, said: “An expression of wish form is a vital piece of the pension jigsaw. Anyone who has a pension would have been asked at outset to complete a form to nominate who should receive the benefits of the pension in the event of their death.
“Given the complexities of life and how things can change so quickly, it is hardly surprising many people said their form is out of date. But that shouldn’t excuse the fact these forms are vital to help pension trustees and scheme administrators pay benefits not only quickly and efficiently, but to the right people.”
He said people in pension drawdown should be particularly alert to updating any expression of wish form to ensure any remaining assets were distributed to the right beneficiaries.
Mr Tully added that current legislation was “more complex thank it needs to be.”
The research was based on a poll by Censuswide in November of 1,039 UK adults aged 16-54, with private pensions.