Choosing Your Beneficiary

When you are first employed in an eligible position, you complete a Beneficiary Designation Form (Form 102). This form includes your choice of beneficiary. Unless you are married or in a registered domestic partnership, you can name anyone, or any appropriate financial planning vehicle (such as a trust) as your beneficiary.

Changing Your Beneficiary

You can change your beneficiary at any time while you are an active member (unless you are married or in a registered domestic partnership). However, trusts cannot be beneficiaries of a monthly retirement benefit. These financial planning tools can only receive a lump sum payout of the contributions and interest you accrued before your death. Be sure to tell CCCERA the name and address of the trust and the trustee.

Marriage and Domestic Partnerships

If you are married, or in a domestic partnership registered with the California Secretary of State, the beneficiary of your retirement account is your spouse or domestic partner. This is the law, unless you file a Spousal Waiver (Form 303). To take effect, this form must be:

  • Signed by both you and your spouse/registered domestic partner.
  • Notarized. 
  • On file at CCCERA.

After this form is received, you may change your beneficiary to anyone you choose. You can also choose to name a trust as your beneficiary, but remember, as noted above, a trust cannot receive a monthly retirement benefit, only a lump sum payout of your contributions and interest.

If you divorce, or dissolve your domestic partnership, remember to update your beneficiary. The beneficiary on your account at the time of your death will receive your benefits.


Divorce or Domestic Partnership Dissolution

Accrued retirement benefits are considered community property in California. Therefore, if you divorce or dissolve a registered domestic partnership, your benefit may be divided between you and your former spouse/partner, depending on the specific community property settlement agreed upon in your dissolution.