Naming a Beneficiary

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Naming a beneficiary for your MCERA account is one of the most important things you can do for your loved ones. In the event of your death, having this information on file simplifies the payment process for your survivor(s) and ensures that MCERA will distribute your contributions the way you wish.

It's a good idea to review your beneficiaries every year or after a life-changing event, such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child or a death in the family. As an active or deferred member you may change your beneficiary at any time.

What Your Beneficiary Gets

If You Die Before Retirement

Several options may be available to your beneficiary. The death benefits paid will depend on the type of beneficiary, whether you were vested or non-vested at the time of your death, and whether your death was job-related. At minimum, your beneficiary is eligible to receive a lump sum refund of the contributions and interest in your member account.

If You Die After Retirement

At the time of retirement you will elect a benefit payment option that determines what your designated beneficiary receives upon your death.

How to Designate Your Beneficiary

The MCERA Member Enrollment Form you complete when you are hired permanently by your employer includes a place for you to name one or more beneficiaries for your MCERA account. You can change or add beneficiaries at any time by completing a Beneficiary Change Form.

Types of Beneficiaries

Primary Beneficiaries

These are the people (or entities) who will receive your benefit. You can name more than one primary beneficiary. MCERA will split your benefit equally among your primary beneficiaries, unless you specify how you'd like your benefit to be divided.

Secondary Beneficiaries

These people or entities receive a benefit only if none of your primary beneficiaries are eligible. For example, if all of your primary beneficiaries have passed away, MCERA would pay your benefit to your secondary beneficiaries.

Things to Consider

Spouses and Minor Children

If you are married or have a minor child(ren), your spouse/minor child(ren) may be entitled to any and all death benefits payable under California law, regardless of whom you designate as beneficiary.

You can name a minor child as a beneficiary, but MCERA cannot pay a benefit directly to that child until he or she turns 18. You may either designate a custodian or a trustee to ensure a minor child receives the benefit you wish. If you don't name a custodian or trustee, MCERA will make benefit payments to the child's parent or legal guardian.

Divorce/Domestic Partnership Dissolution

If you are changing your beneficiary due to divorce, you must also submit a copy of your court filed separation agreement to show whether your former spouse/partner has any claim on your retirement benefits.


When you name your estate as your beneficiary your will determines who gets your estate (or parts of it). MCERA will make a lump sum payment of your member contributions and accrued interest to your estate. Estates cannot receive continuance payments.


To name a trust as a beneficiary please write Trustee of (name of trust) as a primary or alternate beneficiary on your beneficiary designation. MCERA will make a lump sum payment of your member contributions and accrued interest to your trust. Trusts cannot receive continuance payments.

Organization/Charitable Gift

You may name an organization or charity as your beneficiary. MCERA will make a lump sum payment of your member contributions and accrued interest to the designated organization. Organizations and charities cannot receive continuance payments.

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