This year has been marked by profound sorrow, as we’ve faced the heartbreaking reality of losing several of our colleagues. In a world where the unexpected can occur without warning, having family affairs in order is not merely a task for the overly cautious but an essential aspect of responsible living. The advantages of being prepared are many, including reducing stress during emergencies and ensuring the safety of loved ones and assets.
Keeping your personal and beneficiary details up to date ensures peace of mind. Life circumstances can change rapidly, and it’s essential to periodically review and update your decisions and documents to ensure they align with your wishes. By doing so, you can rest assured that the right people will be contacted and receive what you had intended for them in case of unforeseen circumstances. Having a living trust or will is crucial to properly distributing your assets and belongings. Although both instruments are clear on asset disposition, they operate differently, each with advantages and drawbacks.
I want to discuss a critical form that could directly affect your retirement. The LACERA Special Durable Power of Attorney is the form in question. It is often misunderstood, as some may believe it serves the same purpose as a living trust or a will. However, it is distinct, and its proper understanding is crucial. If you want to learn more about this form, please visit the LACERA website. There, you will find the form and instructions on how to fill it out appropriately. I have taken a brief explanation from the LACERA website:
- The LACERA Special Durable Power of Attorney form is a document that differs from a regular power of attorney, as it’s limited to only your LACERA retirement and health care benefits. It also contains a durable clause, ensuring that your designated representative (called an attorney-in-fact) retains decision-making authority if you become incapacitated. This differs from a general power of attorney, which terminates when the principal becomes incapacitated.
In addition, having a LACERA Special Durable Power of Attorney in place allows your attorney-in-fact to act on your behalf concerning the following:
- Filing applications to retire
- Making benefit selections
- Designating beneficiaries
- Making address changes
- Adjusting tax withholding
- Endorsing checks
- Selecting health care options
Considerations for active members: If an active member in a contributory plan passes away, their eligible survivor will receive the default benefit. However, it may be that the member was eligible for retirement benefits that would have been more advantageous for their family. With a LACERA Special Durable Power of Attorney in place, an attorney-in-fact can apply for retirement on the member’s behalf while they are still alive and eligible.
Considerations for retired members: If a retired member becomes ill or unable to handle their affairs, having a LACERA Special Durable Power of Attorney ensures that their spouse, partner or other trusted individual can conduct important LACERA business on the member’s behalf.
In conclusion, being prepared is crucial in all aspects of life, whether for daily tasks or unforeseen emergencies. Preparedness can be the determining factor between effectively handling and becoming overwhelmed by a situation. Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season.