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Choosing Beneficiaries

What you should know about beneficiaries

All ASRS members, whether active, in-active or retired, should have a designated beneficiary on file.

A beneficiary is an individual, institution, trustee or estate which receives, or may become eligible to receive, benefits from a member’s retirement plan annuity or account balance. The beneficiary who is or may be entitled to a pension annuity or other certain benefits is also referred to as a “contingent annuitant.”

All ASRS members who have not yet retired have a Survivor Benefit as part of their ASRS benefits. If the member dies prior to becoming eligible for a retirement benefit, the beneficiary will receive a survivor benefit that is two times the member’s account balance, plus accumulated interest.

Under Joint and Survivor options selected at the time of retirement, the surviving beneficiary is entitled to receive the pension benefit for their lifetime upon the death of the retired member.

Designating a beneficiary

There exist some primary rules for designating beneficiaries of your benefits after your death:

  • Spousal Consent Legislation: ASRS members who are married are required to name their spouse as a primary beneficiary with at least 50 percent of the benefit. The law provides for a waiver of this requirement if the ASRS receives a notarized signature from the spouse waiving rights to a portion of the ASRS benefit. When you submit your retirement application, change your beneficiary, or if you pass away and before any survivor benefits are paid, the ASRS will review your account to ensure compliance with the law.

      Spousal Consent Form

  • All members must designate at least one primary beneficiary. More than one primary beneficiary may be designated, but the total of the primary beneficiaries’ shares must equal 100 percent.
  • Naming a secondary beneficiary is optional as well. Should the primary beneficiary, or all beneficiaries, predecease you, any remaining eligible benefits will be paid to the named secondary beneficiary. Again, more than one secondary beneficiary may be named, but shares must equal 100 percent.
  • Members may also designate a trust or organization to receive any benefits upon your death, either as a primary or secondary beneficiary. Under this option, instead of providing a Social Security number (as required for individual beneficiaries) you must provide a Tax Identification number.

Keep your beneficiary(ies) updated!

It is important that you, the member, keep the ASRS informed of any changes related to your beneficiaries, such as address changes, deaths or changes in relationships. Also, divorce automatically nullifies a beneficiary
selection of the spouse. A member may re-name the divorced spouse if they choose.

Members may change their beneficiary – primary or secondary – at any time prior to your death. There may be restrictions for retired members who change their beneficiary, which may affect the amount of the annuity. Any change will only become official after the ASRS processes a Beneficiary request.

Statutory order, if no valid beneficiary designated

If a deceased member did not designate a beneficiary or the beneficiary named by a member predeceases the member, the ASRS will follow state statutes, which provide for eligible benefits to be paid to the following
persons, in order of priority:
1) The member’s surviving spouse.
2) The member’s surviving children, including adopted children, in equal shares.
3) The member’s surviving parents, in equal shares.
4) The member’s estate.

 

How to check and update your beneficiaries

To add or change a beneficiary, or update any beneficiary information, members must log in to their ASRS secure homepage. Look for the Beneficiaries tab in the left navigation menu.

 

myASRS Login

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know who my beneficiary is?

The ASRS can only use what information is provided to us. Otherwise, we must perform research by soliciting information from those who report the death to the ASRS as well as third-party services, such as Accurint, that provide information to agencies like ours on relatives as reported over the years. But the best information comes from you directly. Please log in (click the button above) to confirm your current beneficiary(ies).

If I pass away, who is the ASRS going to pay?

That's a great question! The ASRS pays your last designated primary beneficiary(ies) on account, whether submitted online or via paper form, with only one exception explained in the next question/answer. Log in to check who is listed as your beneficiary. A full 25% of our members have never designated anyone. In that case, we go by statutory order.

What if my beneficiary pre-deceases me?

If your beneficiary passes away it is important for you to designate a new one as soon as possible. If you are retired you may be eligible to get a higher retirement benefit, depending which option you chose when you retired. If you die without choosing a new beneficiary we will go by order of priority as defined in statute.

If I don't name a beneficiary, who will the ASRS pay?

Arizona Revised Statutes require the ASRS to locate and pay beneficiaries in a particular order of priority, beginning with the current spouse. The details are provided on this Choosing Beneficiaries page.

What if my beneficiary pre-deceases me?

If your beneficiary passes away it is important for you to designate a new one as soon as possible. If you are retired you may be eligible to get a higher retirement benefit, depending which option you chose when you retired. If you die without choosing a new beneficiary we will go by order of priority as defined in statute.

What if I had named my spouse, but later divorced?

By law, divorce automatically nullifies any previously named spouse as beneficiary to your ASRS pension benefits. It is important for you to update your beneficiary after your divorce is final. Once divorced, your former spouse is not eligible for survivor benefits UNLESS you re-name the ex-spouse as your primary beneficiary after the divorce is final.
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