Beneficiaries

Your beneficiaries can be individuals or entities, such as trusts or organizations.

During enrollment, you’ll have an opportunity to name a primary or contingent beneficiary(s) and the percent of the accumulation each is to receive. It’s a good idea to name both primary and contingent beneficiaries to ensure your wishes are covered.

If you do not select a beneficiary when you enroll,  "your estate" will be selected as your beneficiary. You can change your beneficiary at any time.

When you enroll in a retirement plan, it’s a good idea to specify one or more beneficiaries who will receive the financial benefit of your retirement savings upon your death.

“Your estate” is all of your financial assets combined together — houses, cars, investments, furniture or anything else with monetary value. This grouping of your assets happens after your passing. Since the money you’ve saved in your retirement plan is a financial asset, then it will become part of your estate. Once all of the assets in your estate have been distributed to your beneficiaries, heirs or claimants, your estate will no longer exist.

If you’d like to select beneficiaries for your retirement plan(s) today, you’ll need to have the following information at hand:

  • The names and dates of birth for anyone you’d like to add as a beneficiary
  • Tax ID # of any trust or organization you’d like to make a beneficiary

When you enter the percentage for how much of your investment you’d like that beneficiary to receive, you’ll need to make sure your percentages add up to 100%. For instance, if you have two beneficiaries, and you indicate that you want one of them to receive 60% of any assets you have in your retirement account, then you’ll need to assign the other beneficiary 40% so that the total is 100%.

eDelivery of Important Documents

eDelivery is short for “electronic delivery.” It means that you can elect to receive your required documents, such as account statements and prospectuses, online instead of in paper form.

By choosing paperless statements, bills and payments, the average household can save more than six pounds of paper each year.

You’ll be able to choose the option for eDelivery when you enroll online.

Besides being good for the environment, eDelivery provides:

  • Faster delivery of your statements and other documents
  • Secure access to historical statements for seven years
  • Reduced paper clutter in your home and office
  • Flexibility to change your delivery preference at any time.

Here’s how eDelivery works: An email notification will be sent to inform you that a document has been posted online. Then, you can log in to your TIAA-CREF account to view your document securely. Some documents that do not contain personal information will not require you to log in — you will be able to link directly to the electronic document.

Online Account Access

After your enrollment has been processed, you can log into TIAA-CREF’s Secure Online Access at any time to:

  • View and manage your account
  • Check your plan balances
  • Rebalance your portfolio
  • Get online help and more

Replacing an Existing Annuity Contract

Annuities are regulated differently from other financial products. Some states have regulations for replacing existing annuity contracts or life insurance policies with new ones for your retirement plan. There will likely be differences in features, costs, surrender charges, services, company strength and other important aspects. Further, replacing an existing annuity or life insurance policy with another can result in extra fees or charges, and there may be tax consequences. TIAA-CREF is required to confirm that you acknowledge this when you enroll.

Generally, you are replacing an existing contract if you answer “yes” to the following question:

  • Do I currently have an annuity or life insurance policy with another company that I’ll be:

    • Transferring money from?
      or
    • Discontinuing payments in after enrolling with TIAA-CREF?

Generally, you are NOT replacing an existing contract if you answer “yes” to the following question:

  • Am I transferring money from a:

    • Mutual fund?
      or
    • Pension plan not funded by an insurance company?
      or
    • Bank certificate of deposit?

In any case, don’t take action to terminate your existing policy until your new policy has been issued, you’ve examined it and you’ve found it acceptable.

If you have questions, you can call us anytime at 800 842-2252.

Your Spouse's or Domestic Partner’s Right to Annuity

Your spouse or domestic partner may be eligible for at least 50% of your benefits, regardless of your beneficiary selections.

If you are married at the time of your death and you die before your annuity starting date, and your retirement plan is subject to ERISA, your spouse is entitled to receive a Qualified Preretirement Survivor Annuity death benefit for at least 50% of your accumulation under a retirement plan or tax-deferred annuity plan covered by ERISA. Your employer’s plan may provide that a higher percentage of death benefits is to be payable to your spouse.

Even if your plan is not subject to ERISA, state law and/or the terms of your plan may provide that if you are married at the time of your death, your spouse is entitled to receive 50% or more of your death benefits.

In order for a designation of a person or entity other than your spouse as primary beneficiary for more than 50% (or the amount or percent required under the plan or state law) of the benefits, your spouse must properly complete and sign a Spousal Waiver. If your spouse has not properly completed and signed a Spousal Waiver, then 50% (or the plan-mandated and state law-mandated percent) of those death benefits will be payable to your spouse regardless of your beneficiary designation. The remainder, if any, will be payable to your named beneficiaries.

Regarding the rights of “domestic partners,” as TIAA-CREF understands the law, the rights of “domestic partners” (whether registered or ceremonial partners) is limited. The Defense of Marriage Act limits “spousal” rights in ERISA Retirement Plans to spouses of the opposite sex. As to other Non-ERISA plans (public employer plans, etc.) you must consult the plan documents to see what rights are specifically provided domestic partners and what definition of domestic partner is used.

As a matter of contract, TIAA-CREF annuities allow the participant to designate anyone as death benefit beneficiary or Joint Life annuitant (within age tolerances specified by the Internal Revenue Code). This comment is not intended to review other rights (right of election) provided under state law and you should consult your own counsel.

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