If you are a California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) member, it is imperative that you have a durable power of attorney for your finances in place. Why?

In brief, a power of attorney for finances is a legal document that appoints an agent, a person you trust, to manage your financial matters (which can include retirement benefits) in case you are not able to do so yourself. A power of attorney can grant your agent broad authority to manage your finances or it can grant limited authority. And, a power of attorney for finances may become effective immediately at signing or at some future date when you are incapacitated due to illness, accident, or simply aging.

In the event that you are incapacitated and another person needs to take action regarding your retirement benefits (such as change of address, lost or stolen checks, tax withholding elections, beneficiary designations, etc.), CalPERS will require that person to be named as your agent under a durable power of attorney that was signed while you still had the capacity to do so, and also requires that the durable power of attorney meets certain additional requirements. If a durable power of attorney is not in place at the time of your incapacity, a court action, called a conservatorship, will be required if someone needs to act on your behalf regarding your CalPERS retirement benefits. CalPERS offers their own Special Power of Attorney form for use by its members which is specific to retirement benefits only. However, you may also use your own power of attorney form but only if it is durable.  What is durable?  Durable means that the power of attorney remains effective if you become incapacitated. In addition to being durable, CalPERS also requires that the power of attorney grant your agent authority to select payment options if you would like your agent to be able to do this on your behalf. If you would like your agent to designate or change beneficiaries, you must state this in your document. And, if you do not specifically state that your agent may designate him or herself as a beneficiary, your agent will not be permitted to do so.

Anyone who is a CalPERS member and has questions regarding a durable power of attorney should contact Chilina Law Firm or another California attorney who practices in the area of estate planning for more information.

Authored by Karen Chilina Co-Authored by Greg Chilina

Chilina Law Firm, a Professional Corporation, is a full-service estate planning, probate, trust administration, business law, and real property law firm that provides a wide-range of advising, transactional, and litigation services to its clients from its office located in Atascadero, California. The firm’s attorneys represent individuals and business entities in an assortment of transactional and litigation matters involving estate planning (including trusts, wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives), probate, trust administration, as well as general business law, contracts, corporate governance, land use, and real property. Chilina Law can be contacted by telephone at (805) 538-5038 or by email at info@chilinalaw.com or visit the Chilina Law Firm at www.chilinalaw.com. Chilina Law Firm is based in Atascadero, California and serves North San Luis Obispo County communities, including Santa Margarita, Atascadero, Templeton, Paso Robles, and San Miguel.

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