Retired members and active members with enough service credit to retire should consider having a LACERA Special Durable Power of Attorney on file with us.
You are likely familiar with a power of attorney, a legal instrument in which you give legal authority to a designated representative to make property, financial, and other legal decisions on your behalf.
The LACERA Special Durable Power of Attorney is different from a regular power of attorney. First, it is special because it is limited to your LACERA retirement and healthcare benefits only. Second, because it contains a durable clause, it ensures that if you become incapacitated, your designated attorney-in-fact retains decision-making authority. This is different from a general power of attorney, which terminates when the principal becomes incapacitated.
Having a LACERA Special Durable Power of Attorney in place allows another person (your Attorney-in-Fact) to act on your behalf with regard to the following:
- Filing applications to retire
- Making benefit elections
- Designating beneficiaries
- Making address changes
- Adjusting tax withholdings
- Endorsing checks
- Selecting healthcare options
Your attorney-in-fact can be anyone over the age of 18, including a relative. Unless you specify otherwise, your power of attorney will go into effect immediately upon your completion of the paperwork, but you can still handle your own affairs. You have the right to revoke or terminate the power of attorney at any time, as long as you are competent. If you do not revoke the document, it terminates at your death.
In cases where a member without a Durable Power of Attorney becomes incapacitated or unable to handle his or her own affairs, LACERA must withhold the member’s benefits until a court-appointed conservator is named.
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 in place ensures that their spouse, partner, or other trusted individual can conduct important LACERA business on the member’s behalf.
Questions? Contact Us
If you have questions about the LACERA Special Durable Power of Attorney, contact us and a Retirement Benefits Specialist will gladly assist you. Keep in mind, however, that we cannot provide legal advice. If you have legal questions such as who to appoint as your Attorney-In-Fact or which powers to grant to your Attorney-In-Fact, or if your questions are about preparing a non-LACERA Power of Attorney, you will need to consult an attorney.