Active Members: Why You Should Consider a Durable Power of Attorney
It’s always a good idea to make sure that you have the right estate planning documents in place, especially if you have a spouse, domestic partner, and/or dependents. But as a member entitled to a future retirement benefit, you should also look into filing a durable power of attorney (POA) with LACERA. This is especially important if you have enough service credit to retire.
A POA is a legal document used to delegate authority to another person to make decisions on your behalf. Having a POA can be extremely helpful in situations when you are unable to make your own decisions or would prefer someone else to act for you. If the POA is “durable,” it will remain in effect even if you should become incapacitated.
Why Would You Consider It?
If a contributory plan member who is eligible for retirement passes away while still working, their eligible survivor will receive a default benefit. However, it may be that the member was eligible for retirement benefits that would have been better for their family. If this member had put a valid POA in place prior to passing away, their designated attorney-in-fact could have applied for the more advantageous retirement benefits on the member’s behalf.
LACERA Offers a Special Durable Power of Attorney for Members
A LACERA special durable power of attorney (SDPOA) allows you to designate someone as your attorney-in-fact to make LACERA-specific decisions on your behalf. It is limited to your LACERA retirement and healthcare benefits, and you may choose to grant or withhold authority over specific actions, such as designating or changing your beneficiaries and retiring you under a retirement option other than the Unmodified option.
Without a valid durable POA in place, no one else can manage your LACERA retirement benefits, even if you are unable to. In fact, we cannot even discuss your account with anyone, including a spouse, unless you have a POA in place granting them attorney-in-fact access. In such a situation, the person who wishes to handle your affairs would need to obtain a court-ordered conservatorship, which can be very time-consuming and costly.
You can also specify within the LACERA SDPOA that your attorney-in-fact will begin to have authority to act on your behalf only upon your incapacity. This way, you can plan ahead of time in case any unforeseen circumstances occur causing your incapacity.
For more information about the LACERA SDPOA, you can access our Special Durable Power of Attorney page, which includes a guide, instructions, and fillable digital form. You can also contact us with questions, and one of our retirement benefits specialists will be happy to help you.
LACERA cannot offer legal advice. If you have legal questions about whom to appoint as attorney-in-fact or which powers to grant them, or if your questions are regarding a non-LACERA power of attorney, you will need to consult an attorney.