Chapter 173 of the Laws of 2008 – which revokes a member's prior designation of a former spouse as a beneficiary in the event of a subsequent divorce, annulment or judicial separation – was signed into law on July 7. In general, Chapter 173 provides that a divorce, annulment or judicial separation of a marriage revokes a NYSTRS member's prior designation of a former spouse as beneficiary of certain death benefits and retirement options – except as provided by the express terms of a governing instrument (for example, a domestic relations order on file with NYSTRS). Under Chapter 173, the former spouse is treated as having predeceased the member.
The designations impacted by Chapter 173 include the pre-retirement death benefit, and any lump-sum retirement option under which the member is permitted to change the beneficiary. Chapter 173 does not apply to designations that are irrevocable by law, such as the beneficiary designation of a joint and survivor retirement option, or designations that are required under a certified domestic relations order on file with NYSTRS.
For Chapter 173 to apply, NYSTRS must receive written notice of the divorce, annulment or judicial separation before it issues payment of the death benefit.
To ensure benefits are distributed as intended, it is important for divorced members to review their beneficiary designations with NYSTRS and, if necessary, file a new Designation of Beneficiary For In-Service or Post-Retirement Paragraph 2 Death Benefit (NET-11.4) form. A member's current beneficiary designation is listed in the Benefit Profile mailed to active members annually and, for registered members, in their personalized MyNYSTRS account on the NYSTRS website. Chapter 173 also revokes a former spouse's rights to serve as a personal representative, executor, guardian, attorney-in-fact or any other fiduciary role for marriages ended on or after July 7, 2008 – the day Chapter 173 was enacted.
Read the Fact Sheet Regarding Chapter 173 of the Laws of 2008.