SERS Insights

It’s Almost Year-End: Do You Know Who Your Beneficiaries Are?

December 5, 2022 | Brenda Cunard, Director, Office of Member and Participant Services | Terms & Disclaimers

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As 2022 draws to a close, it is an appropriate time to review and reconsider some of the key points of interest that can impact your current and future financial status.

One of the most frequently overlooked aspects of financial planning is the designation of beneficiaries should something happen to you.

In the event of your death, the financial payment, if any, could amount to a significant sum of money. Identifying a beneficiary and keeping that information up-to-date is one of your most important obligations as a SERS member or participant. To establish or update your beneficiary, you should complete and submit a beneficiary nomination form for any or all of the plans of which you are a member.

Have You Had A Major Life Change?

Unlike some other retirement plans you may be accustomed to, SERS will not automatically pay any death benefits to which you may be entitled to your current spouse. For example, federal pension statutes and Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) requirements don't apply to governmental plans such as SERS.

SERS will first pay whoever it is that you have identified on your most recent beneficiary nomination form. If you don't have a form on file, we will pay your estate and the proceeds will be settled and distributed accordingly.
It's important to update your beneficiary after major life changes such as marriages, divorces, births , deaths, or changes to your current beneficiary's name or address.

In the event of a divorce, it is particularly important to update your beneficiary. Whether your pre-divorce designation of your former spouse remains effective will depend on the date you named them and the state you live in at the time of your death.

Stay Current!

Having a current beneficiary form on file helps assure that any benefit remaining after your death is paid according to your current wishes. SERS is legally bound to honor the last valid beneficiary form you file before your death.
You may designate one person, many people, an organization, many organizations, or any combination you choose. It's up to you.

Also, if you are a new hire, you should send SERS a beneficiary nomination form as soon as possible. Then, each year, check your annual statement to ensure that the beneficiaries listed reflect your current wishes. You can review your most recent statement by signing in to SERS online member services at any time.

Also keep in mind that beneficiaries are plan specific, so if you contribute to more than one SERS retirement plan, you will need to designate beneficiaries for each plan.

Don't Wait Until It’s Too Late!

SERS must receive and acknowledge your beneficiary nomination form while you are still alive. Forms received after your death cannot be honored.

You can access a SERS beneficiary nomination form, as appropriate, for each  SERS retirement plan via these links:

Defined Benefit Plan Beneficiary Nomination Form

Defined Contribution Plan Beneficiary Nomination Form

  Alternatively, you can sign into your online account and select the “Beneficiaries” option from the “Account” drop-down menu

Deferred Compensation Plan Beneficiary Nomination Form

  Alternatively, you can sign into your online account and select the “Beneficiaries” option from the “Account” drop-down menu.

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to overlook seemingly mundane matters that could have a huge impact on your financial future – and those of your loved ones. Why not take a moment, now, to make sure all your beneficiary information is up-to-date?

Brenda Cunard is Director of Member and Participant Services at SERS.