A GOOD SCOUT IS ALWAYS PREPARED
( Survivor Benefits Handbook part 1)
(Revised and updated 3/31/2007)
This article is Part 1 of a two part Survivor/Benefits Handbook, prepared to assist each retiree/member in developing a plan to reduce the tremendous burden on family members in the event of your death. I have worked with a number of survivors over the years and have found that very few people really prepare their loved ones for this traumatic event.
This material is not all-inclusive. It does cover the information developed in conjunction with the staff of a funeral home. It is my recommendation that you visit a funeral home of your choice and review their pre-planned information. At the time of your death, your survivor(s) can request the funeral home staff order copies of your death certificate and I recommend that ten (10) to twenty (20) copies be ordered. Additional copies may be obtained at a later time, but this delay can only add to the problems being faced by those making the final arrangements.
One of the major obstacles facing a survivor(s) is the need for a clearly written document identifying your beneficiary(ies). A separate document on file with various entities is certainly best. These entities may be your attorney, financial advisor, accountant, or bank. A copy or several copies of a document, which clearly states your designated beneficiary(ies), is strongly recommended. This document will require your signature, the date, and a witness. If you list your spouse as your beneficiary and he/she precedes you in death with no other person(s) listed, a major problem will develop if this situation is not corrected prior to your passing. Another situation, which has developed many times around divorces, is that a person fails to change his/her beneficiary(ies). An ex-spouse will receive payment and this may not be your intent or desire.
The following is a list of agencies and associations your survivor(s) may be required to contact at the time of your death.
1. SACRAMENTO COUNTY EMPLOYEES’ RETIREMENT SYSTEM? (SCERS)
980 9th Street, Sacramento, Ca. 95814 (916) 874-9119 or Toll Free 1-800-336-1711 (If calling from California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Nevada or Arizona.) E-mail www.scers.org
A call to the Retirement Office will start the process and ensure the continuation of benefits (if applicable). They will need a copy of the death certificate, but it will not be needed to start things moving. The Retirement Office will notify the County Benefits Office and a packet of information will be sent to the appropriate person.
Your beneficiary is entitled to a $4,000.00 death benefit. Yes, I am sad to say they will take taxes out of the $4,000.00. This is a very easy process and the County is very good at taking care of this benefit. Remember they need to know whom your named and documented beneficiary(ies) is and that it is in writing. (Gail a very nice lady at 916-874-3341 advised me that effective January 1, 2007 allows for a rollover of this payout to an IRA or 401(k).)
If medical coverage is to continue for your survivor(s) it must be recorded within 30 days after the mailing of information sent out by the Benefits Office. This could become a major problem if overlooked after your passing. Any questions regarding continued medical coverage and/or time frame issues could be addressed by calling (916) 874-9092.
Additional information was available in the SCERS- 2014 Benefits Handbook for Sacramento County. This is an excellent resource and is available under the Links Tab on this website.
2. SACRAMENTO COUNTY RETIRED EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION? (SCREA)
P. O. Box 161414, Sacramento, CA? 95816
SCREA represents you in retirement. Your spouse can join SCREA now as an affiliate member or can continue membership after your passing. SCREA provides a great service to retirees and continued membership by your survivor is recommended. They provide a newsletter that brings up-to-date and accurate information regarding retirement and other important issues.
3. SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINSTRATION 1-800-772-1213
To continue Social Security Benefits as a surviving spouse you will need a copy of your birth certificate and a copy of your marriage license. You will also need the full name and social security number of the deceased in order to change the monthly benefits and to receive the $255.00 death benefit.
4. SACRAMENTO COUNTY DEPUTY SHERIFF’S ASSOCATION (916) 441-4141
1700 H Street, Suite 100, Sacramento, CA 95814
If you were a member of the association at the time of your retirement, your survivor(s) is entitled to a $1,000.00 life insurance policy. (See #5 below).
5. SACRAMENTO COUNTY CREDIT UNION (916)-444-6070
Members of the Credit Union are covered with a $1000.00 Accidental Life Insurance policy. Cause of death must be by an accident.
6. SACRAMENTO COUNTY DEFERRED COMPENSATION. (916) 874-2020
To avoid major tax consequences, your survivor(s) must notify the Deferred Compensation Office within 60 days from the date of death. A copy of the death certificate and the established beneficiary(ies) is required.
7. ASSOCIATION OF SACRAMENTO COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT VETERANS AND EMPLOYEES. Known as the “711 Club”.
A $500.00 death benefit is paid to the survivors/family of active paid members. Please see our web page at www.711club.org
8. BRUCE VERHOEVEN FUND
This foundation provides financial assistance to widows and orphans of?families in need. There is no direct benefit. A need for assistance will have to be established.
Sheriff’s Honor Guard is available for services if requested by the family. Retired Lieutenant Gordon Knutson can be contacted (916)-606-1917.
VFW or American Legion Honor Guard is available for services. Funeral Home staff will assist in contacting the appropriate Post.
Sharon Chow of the Sheriff’s Department will notify departmental personnel of the passing of a former employee and the arrangements for the services. Phone (916)-874-5021.
You may want to assist your family by developing the information you would like in your obituary and the selection of a photograph you would like used in conjunction with the article.
I can assure you, it is far easier to stay alive----So take good care of yourself. If your decision is to let others decide for you and you do nothing, the losers are your loved ones.
If you have any questions, comments, or additional information you would like to add to this article, please advise the webmaster.
Written by Larry D. Stamm, retired former Undersheriff, (deceased).