The death of an Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia (ERSGA) member or retiree can be a confusing and complicated time for the spouse or beneficiaries, and/or executors of the estate. See below for helpful guidelines for members to use when planning for this event.
Prior to Death – Beneficiaries
√ Keep your beneficiary information current for ALL plans.
You should update your beneficiary information for:
- Address changes
- Death of a beneficiary
- A change in marital status
- The birth of a child
In addition to your ERSGA Plan, beneficiary information must be maintained for the following (when applicable):
- Peach State Reserves (PSR) 401(k) and 457 Plans
- Group Term Life Insurance (GTLI)
- Flexible Benefits ‐ Optional Life Insurance and Accidental Death & Dismemberment
How to review and update your beneficiary designation:
ERS and/or GTLI:
Log in to your account on the ERSGA website. https://portal.ers.ga.gov/
Peach State Reserves and Flexible
Log in to your account on the GaBreeze website at http://gabreeze.ga.gov or call 1‐877‐342‐7339.
√ Inform your beneficiaries of their designation.
Inform all named beneficiaries to avoid delays in payment processing.
√ Report Death to ALL Plans
It is important to report the death of a member as soon as possible to prevent delays in payments to beneficiaries.
Deaths must be reported to ERSGA for all pension plans and GTLI benefits and to GaBreeze for benefits from the PSR 401(k) or 457 Plan accounts and for Flexible Benefits. Death certificates will be required by both ERSGA and GaBreeze for benefit processing.
What to Expect
Designated beneficiaries will be notified by ERSGA and the PSR plan administrator (if applicable) upon receipt of a death certificate. In cases where a beneficiary has not been designated by the member, the payment will made to the estate for pension and 457 plans. For 401(k) plans, the payment will be due to the spouse. If an estate is not established, an Heir-at-law Affidavit will be mailed and benefits are paid to the next of kin. Note: It is not automatic that the Spouse will receive a benefit payment and may also depend on the amount of the benefit and where it is required for the heir to establish an Estate. (Example: GTLI requires this for over $15,000.)
√ Stay Organized
To facilitate a quicker payment process to your beneficiaries and to ease the stress on your loved ones in a difficult time, it is helpful to keep an organized file outlining:
- All accounts, including account numbers
- Beneficiaries of each account
- Contact information for all beneficiaries
- Contact information for all institutions holding your accounts
Any benefit payment that may be due to a beneficiary cannot be
disclosed to any party other than the
beneficiary (other parties include executors of the estate and/or any co‐beneficiaries named on the account).
Estate as Beneficiary**
In the event that the deceased’s estate is named as a beneficiary, the executor or executrix of the estate must provide ERSGA with a Letter of Testamentary for any payment to be processed to the deceased’s estate. In the case of the estate being named as a beneficiary for a Peach State Reserves 401(k) or 457 account, the same documents should be provided to GaBreeze for processing. Note: Certain benefit payment options (e.g., Option 2 100% Survivor Benefit) cannot be paid to an estate, only to a beneficiary.
Reporting a Death
ERS and/or GTLI: Call 404.350.6300
(or 1.800.805.4609 if outside of metro‐Atlanta area)
Peach State Reserves: 1.877.342.7339
* If the deceased was married at the time of death and had a 401(k) plan, the account will automatically be designated to the surviving spouse. For non‐spousal beneficiaries to claim a 401(k) plan from a married deceased member or retiree, the member/retiree’s spouse must complete and have on file a 401(k) spousal beneficiary waiver prior to the member/retiree’s death.
**For benefits under $10,000, an estate may not have to be established. Please contact our office for more information