After your death, your Account will be distributed to the beneficiary(ies) that you previously selected on a beneficiary designation form prescribed by the Plan Office, completed and sent back to the Plan Office before your death. If you did not designate a beneficiary, then the Plan will distribute your Account to your spouse or registered domestic partner (as provided under Section 297 of the California Family Code), child(ren), parent(s) and then your estate, prioritized in that order, with equal sharing among multiple beneficiaries in the beneficiary class. If, for example, you have a spouse and children, and are comfortable with the Plan's order of determining your beneficiary, then you may not need to complete a beneficiary designation form. Otherwise, you should complete a beneficiary designation form, and review it for changes periodically for changes due to divorce, death of beneficiaries, tax issues and other possible reasons. Be aware that a beneficiary designation form that you previously completed may become invalid if you thereafter marry or divorce, or if you enter into, or terminate, a domestic partnership under California law.
If you (as the Participant) are married and you die before commencing distribution of your Account with your spouse as your beneficiary, your spouse may elect to receive a distribution under any of the benefit distribution forms that would have been available to you (see paragraph 6.9). The form of distribution to your spouse that will be paid if no other form is elected is a qualified pre-retirement survivor annuity (or "QPSA"). A QPSA is a life annuity contract, purchased from an insurance company with the entire Account balance, and which pays monthly benefits for the life of your surviving spouse, provided you have been married at least one year. If you are married and wish to designate a non-spouse beneficiary, you will need to waive the QPSA form of benefit, and your spouse will need to consent to your waiver. If you waive the QPSA before you attain age 35, you will need to waive it again (with spousal consent) after the beginning of the year in which you attain age 35 in order for the designation to continue to apply after the first day of that year. Your selection of a beneficiary other than your spouse is considered a waiver of the QPSA that requires the consent of your spouse. If you would like more information about waiving the QPSA by selecting a non-spouse beneficiary, ask the Plan Office for the notice titled Explanation to Participant of Qualified Pre-Retirement Survivor Annuity, which will automatically be provided to you if you wish to select a non-spouse beneficiary while you are married.
Different beneficiary forms may be used for this Plan, the NCEW Pension Plan and the SFEW Health and Welfare Plan, though a single combined form may, if expressly stated, be used to designate beneficiaries for this Plan and the Pension Plan. Be sure to file a separate form for death benefits payable under the SFEW Health & Welfare Plan.