Who Is Your Beneficiary?
As an active member, you had the opportunity
to designate your beneficiary for death benefits when
you entered ACERA membership, and active and
deferred members can change their beneficiary any time prior
Retired members had the opportunity at the time of retirement to
name beneficiaries for continuance payments. Continuance
beneficiaries, once designated, can’t be changed. Retired
members can name beneficiaries for lump-sum death benefit
payments at retirement and at any time during retirement.
Who is your beneficiary? You should log in to
your online account to see who your
designated beneficiary is. If the beneficiary is incorrect, or
you have no beneficiary, you should change your beneficiary.
How to Change Your Beneficiary
Complete the appropriate form for you and mail it to
Active and Deferred Members: Active or Deferred Member Beneficiary Designation Form
Retired Members: Retired Member Beneficiary Designation Form
Some Helpful Preparations to Make for Your Beneficiary
In addition to the checklist below, you may want to review this
handy flyer, which contains a lot of the same
information: Getting Your Affairs in Order Flyer
- Ensure your beneficiary information is up to date by
reviewing your online
- Make a will. Every adult should have a will. It’s a good idea
to see an estate-planning attorney to have your will done
according to your wishes, especially if you have a more
complicated estate. However, if expense is an issue or you
believe your situation is fairly simple, you can make your own
will for free: try www.doyourownwill.com.
- Make an Advanced
Healthcare Directive. An advanced directive
allows you to choose someone to make health care decisions
for you when you cannot (or do not want to) make health care
decisions for yourself. It also allows you to state your
treatment preferences if you have a terminal condition or if you
are in a state of permanent unconsciousness.
- Make a life planning file. Get a folder, manilla
envelope, or other container and put the following items in:
Personal documents — birth certificates,
passports, Social Security information, marriage
certificate, divorce decree, military discharge papers,
naturalization papers, your and your loved one’s wills,
advanced healthcare directives, adoption papers, power of
attorney, and burial instructions.
Retirement and death benefit information —
ACERA’s phone number and website, contact information for
other pensions you have, and contact information for
organizations for which are eligible for death benefits.
Income tax information — copies of both
state and federal income tax returns for the last two
Property tax information — copies of tax
bills, house and burial plot deeds, liens, and other
Insurance policies — life, auto,
homeowners, property, accident, liability, and
Bank and financial accounts — include
locations of all checking and savings accounts, CDs,
brokerage accounts, deferred compensation accounts, safe
deposit boxes, savings bonds, stocks, bonds and any other
Credit cards — account numbers, phone
numbers, and addresses.
Associations and organizations of which
you are a member — some of them could be helpful to your
Friends and business associates who could
be helpful. Also include names and numbers of your
attorney, accountant, stockbroker, financial planner,
insurance agent, and executor/executrix of your will.
Survivor Checklist — A copy of
- Make sure you show and/or tell your beneficiary where your
life planning file is. Also tell your beneficiary where the
following items are located:
- Titles and deeds to your house and other property
- Mortgage documents
- Safe combination
- Trust agreements
You Can Name Fund Custodians for Beneficiaries Under Age
18 to Avoid Court Appointment
If you are designating a minor as a beneficiary, ACERA strongly
recommends that you name an adult you trust to serve as a
“custodian” to receive and manage the payments for the minor
until age 18 or an older specified age.
If you do not name a “custodian,” ACERA will not be able to pay
benefits that exceed $10,000 to the minor until a court appoints
a guardian of the estate for the minor (payments up to $10,000
may be made to an adult member of the minor’s family or to a
trust company without a “custodian” designation). Naming a person
you trust as a “custodian” for the minor will help the minor
beneficiary and those caring for the minor beneficiary avoid such
delay and expense. A minor’s parent
is not automatically a guardian of the estate for that
child, so you should name a parent of the minor as the
“custodian” if you want a parent of the minor to receive and
manage the payments.
Spouses and Minor Children Have Legal Rights to Continuance
Benefits, Which Supersede Any Other Named Beneficiaries
However, it is possible for your spouse to waive his or her
rights to your benefits.