Employers' Pensions and Benefits Administration Manual (EPBAM)
   

 

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Instructions for Completing the
Designation of Beneficiary Form


       
    Who Should Complete a Designation of Beneficiary Form?
 
    Benefits Covered by the Designation of Beneficiary Form  
      Group Life Insurance
Pension Benefits
 
  Active Members
Retired Members
Return of Accumulated Deductions
Last Check Benefit
   

Sample Designation of Beneficiary Form
Instructions for Completing the Designation of Beneficiary Form
Rules for Designating a Beneficiary
Do's and Don't's When Designating a Beneficiary
When the Beneficiary is a Minor
Form: Application for Dependent Death Benefits
Primary and Contingent Beneficiaries
Formal and Informal Trustees
Power of Attorney
Conservators and Legal Guardians
Notarization of the Designation of Beneficiary Form
The Designation of Beneficiary Form for Download

 
       

Who should complete a Designation of Beneficiary form?

  • Any members who want to change the beneficiary they designated on their retirement system enrollment application or on any Designation of Beneficiary form they filed since enrollment.

  • Any retirees who want to change the beneficiary they designated on their Application for Retirement Allowance or on any Designation of Beneficiary form they filed since retirement.

What benefits are covered by the Designation of Beneficiary form?

  • Group Life Insurance benefits for active and retired members:
    This does not apply to retirees with less than ten years of service credit or retirees of the Consolidated Police and Firemen's Pension Fund (CPFPF) or the Prison Officers' Pension Fund (POPF).
  • Return of Accumulated Deductions: Applies to active members only; does not apply to ABP.
  • Last Check Benefit: Applies to retirees only; does not apply to ABP.
  • Maximum or Option 1 Benefits: Applies to PERS, TPAF, and JRS retirees only. The named beneficiary for Options 2, 3, 4, A, B, C, or D cannot be changed.

Sample Form

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Instructions for Completing the Designation of Beneficiary Form

Item 1: Pension Fund

Check the box that indicates the pension fund to which the member belongs:

PERS — Public Employees' Retirement System

TPAF — Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund

PFRS — Police and Firemen's Retirement System

CPFPF — Consolidated Police and Firemen's Pension Fund

SPRS — State Police Retirement System

JRS — Judicial Retirement System

ABP — Alternate Benefit Program

POPF — Prison Officers' Pension Fund


Item 2: Member's Name

The member must complete this information. 

The Designation of Beneficiary form requires the member's full name—no nicknames.

Item 3: Member's Date of Birth

The member must provide his or her date of birth—recommended format: MM/DD/YYYY.

Item 4: Member's Social Security Number, Membership Number, or Retirement Number

The member must complete this information.

Active members have the option of providing either their Social Security number or their pension membership number. An active member can obtain the membership number from the annual Personal Benefits Statement.

Retired members have the option of providing either their Social Security number or their retirement number. A retired member can obtain the retirement number from the pension check stub, or from the Statement of Allowances and Deductions.

Item 5: Group Life Insurance Beneficiaries

Primary Group Life Insurance Beneficiaries

This section must be completed by all members (except members of the CPFPF and of the POPF). The member indicates his/her primary beneficiary information. The member must include each primary beneficiary's full name, address, relationship to member, and date of birth. The member may also include each beneficiary's Social Security number, although the beneficiary Social Security number is optional.

The beneficiary(ies) listed in this section are those whom the member wishes to receive group life insurance benefits in the event of the member's death.  The return of accumulated deductions is a separate designation covered in Item 6.

Contingent Group Life Insurance Beneficiaries

When a member dies, the contingent beneficiary or beneficiaries will receive death benefits only if all primary beneficiaries have predeceased the member. (See Rules for Designation of Beneficiaries below to ensure death benefit distribution occurs in accordance with the member's wishes.)

The member indicates his/her contingent beneficiary information here. The member must include each contingent beneficiary's full name, address, relationship to member, and date of birth. The member may also include each beneficiary's Social Security number, although the beneficiary Social Security number is optional.

Please note: If no primary or contingent beneficiaries survive the member, then all death benefits will be paid to the member's estate.

Item 6: Pension Beneficiary (Does not apply to ABP members)

This designation is for any/all pension benefits remaining at the time of a member's death.

Please read below carefully to help members understand the pension benefits, if any, that apply to them, based on the fund in which they have membership and whether they have active or retired status.

Primary Beneficiary Information, Pension Benefits

The member indicates his/her primary beneficiary information. The member must include each primary beneficiary's full name, address, relationship to member, and date of birth. The member may also include each beneficiary's Social Security number, although the beneficiary Social Security number is optional.

The primary beneficiary(ies) named will receive any/all pension benefits upon the member's death.

Contingent Beneficiary Information

After indicating the primary beneficiary information, the member indicates his/her contingent beneficiary information, including each contingent beneficiary's full name, address, relationship to member, and date of birth. The member may also include each beneficiary's Social Security number, although this information is optional.

The contingent beneficiary receives these benefits only if all primary beneficiaries have predeceased the member. If no primary or contingent beneficiaries survive the member, then any such benefits will be paid to the member's estate.

Active Members

Member contributions made by active members of the defined benefit plans are intended to help fund a retirement allowance. 

If a Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund (TPAF) or Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) member dies before retirement, these funds are not needed for pension purposes and will be refunded to whomever the member has designated as beneficiary--that is, there is a return of accumulated deductions.

In the case of PFRS, SPRS and JRS members, accumulated deductions are paid only if the member has no spouse or domestic partner, minor children, or dependent parents to whom a pension can be paid, in accordance with statutes governing each fund.

The accumulated deductions must be paid to the designated beneficiary in a lump sum payment. There is no other option available for distribution of accumulated deductions (pension contributions).

This designation does not apply to ABP (Alternate Benefits Program) members.

Retired Members (All retirees except those retired from the ABP)

For PERS, TPAF, and JRS* members:

Last Check Benefit

Pension checks sent to a member after death, or any uncashed pension checks as of the date of death, should be returned to the Division of Pensions and Benefits.  When the last check is returned, a replacement check will be issued in the name of the beneficiary named here.

Maximum Option

Under the TPAF, the PERS and the JRS*, if the member chose the maximum allowance, the balance of the member's pension contributions, if any, that have not been paid in the form of the retirement allowance would be paid to the beneficiary named here. 

Option 1 Benefit

If the member chose Option 1, the balance of the Option 1 reserve, if any, would be paid to the beneficiary named here.

All other Options

After the effective retirement date, a beneficiary named under Options A, B, C, D, 2, 3, and 4 cannot be changed.  However, if the named beneficiary under Options A, B, C, D, 2, 3, or 4 predeceases the member, a new beneficiary should be named for the Last Check Benefit and life insurance, if applicable.

*JRS members: In addition to the statutory monthly survivor benefits for an eligible spouse or domestic partner, and/or dependent children, you may also
elect one of the eight voluntary pension options that provide a pension benefit to a named beneficiary of your choice.

For PFRS, SPRS, and JRS members:

For PFRS, SPRS, and JRS members, the pension benefit is a monthly pension determined by the statutes governing each fund regarding surviving spouses, domestic partners, minor children, and dependent parents.

Member Signature and Date

All members who complete a Designation of Beneficiary form must complete this section. The member's signature, date of completion, mailing address, and daytime telephone number, with area code, must all be completed. Notarization of the Designation of Beneficiary form is no longer required.

Submit the completed form to:

Beneficiary Services
The Division of Pensions and Benefits
PO Box 295
Trenton, NJ  08625-0295.
 

The Designation of Beneficiary form does not become effective until received at the Division of Pensions and Benefits. Once received, any new designation will supersede any and all prior designations of beneficiary.

Beneficiary Designation When A Member Retires

When a member files for retirement, any beneficiary designation made on the retirement application will supersede all prior beneficiary designations. This will be true even if:

  • the retirement is not yet effective because the retirement date is still in the future;

  • the retirement is cancelled. 

After a designation of beneficiary is made on a retirement application, any changes must be made with a subsequent Designation of Beneficiary form.

Order of Payment of Death Benefits

Primary Beneficiaries
In the event of a member's death, the primary beneficiary or beneficiaries will be first in line to receive any death benefits payable under group life insurance. (See Rules for Designation of Beneficiaries below to ensure death benefit distribution occurs in accordance with the member's wishes.)

Contingent Beneficiaries
In the event of a member's death, the contingent beneficiary or beneficiaries will receive death benefits only if all primary beneficiaries have predeceased the member. (See Rules for Designation of Beneficiaries below to ensure death benefit distribution occurs in accordance with the member's wishes.)

If no primary or contingent beneficiaries survive the member, then all death benefits will be paid to the member's estate.

Rules for Designation of Beneficiaries

  • A member may nominate any person, persons, institution, trust, estate, etc., as primary or contingent beneficiary, including a religious or charitable instiution.


  • If a religious or charitable institution is named, its tax identification number and incorporation date should be included on the form.


  • The same beneficiary(ies) may be listed for both group life insurance and the return of accumulated deductions or last check benefit.  Using the words, "Same as Above" is not acceptable; the member must repeat the same information for both items.


  • If more than one person is named a primary beneficiary, the following shall apply: "Share and Share Alike, Survivor or Survivors", unless the member specifies an unequal distribution (see below).   If multiple beneficiaries are named, it is to be understood that the beneficiaries living at the member's death will share equally in the distribution of the death benefits (unless an unequal distribution has been outlined by the member, see below).  The same applies to multiple contingent beneficiaries.
  • If a member wants an unequal distribution among beneficiaries, he or she can use a percentage or a fraction next to the person's name.
    • If the member specifies a percentage nomination, the percentages written must add up to 100%, as in the following example: The member writes, Mary Smith, sister - 70%; Thomas Jones, brother - 30% (70% + 30% = 100%).


    • In the case of fractional nominations, the fractions must add up to one (1). For example, the member writes: Joe Jones, son - 1/4; Jim Jones, son - 1/4; Patty Smith, daughter- 1/2; (1/4 + 1/4 + 1/2 = 1.)


    • Please note that in the case of an unequal distribution, if one of the named beneficiaries predeceases the member, the deceased beneficiary's share becomes payable to the member's estate, unless the member has stated otherwise on the form.


    • Specific dollar amounts should not be indicated since the amount of group life insurance changes with every change in the member's salary (for active members) or retirement allowance (for retirees).


  • The Division of Pensions and Benefits cannot require that the member provide the beneficiary's Social Security number.  Providing the Social Security number of a beneficiary, however, may hasten the death claim processing.


  • If additional space is required, write, "See attached", on the beneficiary line on the form and attach a separate sheet, giving all the information required for beneficiaries on the form. This separate sheet should be signed by the member and dated.


  • When naming a married female as beneficiary, be certain her proper name is given, e.g., Mary J. Jones, not Mrs. John R. Jones.  Nicknames are also not acceptable.


  • The member may change the beneficiary designation for the group life insurance, accumulated pension deductions or last check benefit (retired members) at any time.


  • If no beneficiary designation is in effect at the time of death, or the designation section is incomplete or blank, payment will be made to the member's estate.


  • For PFRS, SPRS and JRS ONLY:  The designation of beneficiary directs payment of all death benefits described by the statutes which are not specifically directed to a widow, widower, same-sex domestic partner, child or parent.  If an annual pension is payable to a surviving widow, widower, same-sex domestic partner, child, or parent, such pension would be payable in addition to the insurance coverage.

When a Beneficiary is a Minor

If a member wishes to name a minor as a beneficiary for pension death and/or group life insurance benefits, the manner of the designation can make a huge difference in how benefits are paid.
  1. If a member dies leaving pension, death, and /or group life insurance benefits to a minor, the Division of Pensions and Benefits will withhold payment of the benefit until one of the following occurs:


    • A court-ordered guardian of the minor's property is appointed by the courts and proof of this is forwarded to the Division, in which case the benefits will be paid to the guardian on the minor's behalf, or;


    • The minor attains age 18.


  2. The member may choose to leave pension, death benefits, and/or group life insurance benefits to a trust established on behalf of a minor beneficiary. There are two types of trusts, formal and informal.


    • A formal trust is established by formal, legal documents filed with a NJ county court that designate a person, persons, or corporation as "Trustee". When designating a formal trust on behalf of a minor beneficiary, the member must clearly state "Formal Trust" on behalf of the minor and include the date of trust incorporation: For example, John Taylor, Trustee for Joshua Taylor, under the terms of my trust agreement, dated January 1, 1993. The name and address of the trustee must also be provided, in order to provide contact information upon the member's death. A copy of the trust agreement does not have to be attached to the Designation of Beneficiary form. All specified death benefits would then be paid to the trust. NOTE: A financial institution can be named as the trustee.

    • An informal trust is one that has not been filed with the courts and need not be a formal agreement. In this case, the member designates a person or persons to act as "informal trustee(s)" on behalf of the minor. The informal trustee(s) would be paid the specified benefits on behalf of the minor beneficiary. An example would be, "Jane Miller, Informal Trustee for June Doe, daughter." June Doe is the beneficiary, but since she is minor, Jane Miller would receive the benefits on her behalf. The address and birth date of the minor being named as the beneficiary must be included on the form.

Power of Attorney and the Designation of Beneficiary Form

Members may use a Power of Attorney form to authorize another person to act on their behalf, granting that individual the Power of Attorney. An individual named by a member to have the Power of Attorney who completes a Designation of Beneficiary on the member's behalf, can nominate him/herself, or someone else, as beneficiary only if the Power of Attorney form clearly states that he/she has the power to do so.

Some Powers of Attorney are "limited" Powers of Attorney, meaning the individual is granted the Power of Attorney for only a limited period of time, or has been given the Power of Attorney only over certain areas. A member can, for example, grant limited Power of Attorney, allowing that individual to complete the retirement application but not name him/herself to be beneficiary. Be sure that a member granting limited Power of Attorney clearly states what affairs or transactions are being covered. In the case of group life insurance, the Power of Attorney form must specifically state that the individual given Power of Attorney on a member's behalf can name him/herself as a beneficiary of life insurance policies.

Conservators/Legal Guardians and the Designation of Beneficiary Form

A conservator is a person or institution designated by the courts to take over and protect the interests of a member who is deemed incapable to do so on his/her own. A legal guardian is appointed by the courts to care for a child under the age of 18 whose parents are deceased or found to be incapable of caring for the child. Both legal guardians and conservators are appointed by the courts, and act on behalf of the courts.

Legal guardians and conservators may choose themselves or someone else as beneficiary on both the Designation of Beneficiary and the Application for Retirement Allowance, and may make any retirement option selection. They must, however, report their selections to the courts.

Do's and Don'ts of Beneficiary Designation

Based on frequent experience at the Division, the following "Do's and Don'ts" are suggested as a means to reduce the number of errors on beneficiary designation forms and ensure that members are well served in this important area.

Don't use "white-out" or cross out names to make changes in designation. This makes the form unacceptable. It will be rejected and a new form will be mailed to the member.

Do complete a fresh form whenever the member makes a mistake in designating a beneficiary. In the long run, this will save the member time and will eliminate any uncertainty regarding the desired designation.

Don't name the same person or persons in both the Primary and Contingent Beneficiary sections. This makes the form unacceptable. It will be rejected and a new form will be mailed to the member.

Do choose both primary and contingent beneficiaries with care.

Don't leave the address for any beneficiary blank. This will require the Division of Pensions and Benefits to generate a letter requesting the required information.

Don't neglect the birthdate of each beneficiary. This will require the Division of Pensions and Benefits to generate a letter to request the required information.

Don't forget to list the relationship of each beneficiary to the member. This will require the Division of Pensions and Benefits to generate a letter requesting the required information.

Do have all beneficiary information on hand when completing a Designation of Beneficiary form.

Do periodically check the most recent Designation of Beneficiary form submitted, making sure that all beneficiary information is correct, especially names, addresses, and phone numbers.

Method of Payment of Group Life Insurance Benefits

Active Members
The group life insurance may be paid:

  • in one lump sum,
  • as a monthly annuity payable for the life of the beneficiary, or
  • in monthly installments over a fixed number of years.

In most cases it is advisable that the member indicate "lump sum payment"; this permits the beneficiary to elect a manner of payment to suit his or her needs at the time of death.  If the member elects a form of payment other than "lump sum", the benefit will be paid accordingly.

Retired Members
The group life insurance for retirees will be paid in one lump sum only.
(This does not apply to members who retired with less than 10 years of service, or retirees of the CPFPF or the POPF.)

 

 

 

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Last Updated: August 23, 2006