How your father's pension fund will be distributed upon his future passing depends on many factors and how the arrangements your father made, if any.
There are questions that need to be asked, some of which are as follows:
1) Does the pension your father has with Central State provide for death benefits to your father's beneficiaries, or does the pension payment obligation terminate upon your father's passing?
2) Assuming that the pension does have death benefits for your father's beneficiaries, did your father inform the Central State Pension fund in writing on the appropriate forms names and contact information of the beneficiaries and, if so, what percentages to allocate the funds to the beneficiaries?
3) Assuming that the pension does have death benefits for your father's beneficiaries, did your father instead designate that it is his estate which will be the beneficiary in which case a last will and testament can direct how these funds are to be distributed to beneficiaries. In the absence of a last will and testament, the laws of intestate descent and distribution (intestacy) of the State of Illinois will determine who are the beneficiaries of the assets of the estate (i.e. the assets for which your father did not have a testimentary substitute such as payable on death, etc.)?
4) Did you father ever inform the Central State Pension fund of his intentions at death?
Please consider speaking to your father on this issue and ask him what his intentions are and what he wants. Hopefully, your father is well and is able to answer these questions. Sometimes, it is difficult for people to discuss these issues as they concern mortality and is a sad and depressing subject. However, it is important for people to prepare in advance for themselves and their family.
Further, your father, if he hasn't already, should consider consulting with an estate planning attorney licensed and experienced in Illinois who is familiar with the specific laws of the state. An elder law attorney may also need to be consulted to see whether planning is necessary if your father goes to a nursing home and to determine any possible impact of this on who is entitled to the pension payments both while your father is alive and after death.
Also, it may be a good idea to contact the people who manage the Central State Pension fund to find out exactly what the situation is.
Good luck and please consult an attorney.
Suzanne Alexandra Ascher, Esq., CPA, Tax LL.M.
Legal disclaimer by Suzanne Alexandra Ascher, Esq: My answer is strictly for information and education purposes only and therefore my answer does not form any attorney-client relationship and attorney-client privilege between me and you. These questions and answers on AVVO.COM are no substitute for actual qualified legal advice by an actual licensed attorney in good standing with the bar who can become fully informed of your entire situation above and beyond the limited description of your situation in your question. Further, nothing posted in this public forum of AVVO.COM is deemed confidential or privileged communication. Finally, in accordance with IRS Circular 230 disclosure, federal (United States) tax advice provided in this communication is neither intended nor written to be used, and cannot be used, by to avoid penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or to promote, market, or recommend to anyone a transaction or matter addressed in this communication.
Normally, the pension of a Union Employee is governed by the pension plan documents that are maintained by the plan administer. To fully know your rights you would have to review the terms of the plan that are maintained by the plan administer. If the Father filled-out a binding beneficiary form in which he designated the beneficiary he wants to receive his pension should he die, and he elected for a survivor to receive a portion of his pension on death, this form will control who obtains the pension benefits. Your Father should have a beneficiary and contingent beneficiary form on file with his employer, his Union and possibly in his safe deposit box. I would recommend that your Father makes sure that he has a current beneficiary form that states who shall receive his benefits and a contingent beneficiary should the first named person pass away. I would recommend that your Father consult with an attorney knowledgeable in employee benefits and ERISA and pension law.
I agree with the prior attorneys fine answer. Basically, the beneficiary designations control. Note however, that some pension benefits terminate at that person's death if certain elections are made.
Call the company to get the plan administrator's telephone number. Then discuss it with them. If you were the named beneficiary they will discuss it with you. If not you are probably not the beneficiary. In any event, you should discuss this with an estates and ERISA/employee benefits lawyer.
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