New Caselaw – PERS benefit estimates

When PERS retirement benefits are being divided in a divorce there are at least two issues that the divorcing spouse needs to be aware of:

1.  You cannot rely on a PERS benefit estimate created by PERS.  The court of appeals ruled on this issue on December 1, 2010 in the Bell v. PERB case.  The opinion can be found here:  http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/A140350.htm.  We always advise our clients to employ independent actuaries and/or financial advisors and/or accountants in order to verify that the PERS benefits are correct especially when they are not split 50/50 in a dissolution.  A related issue is that the benefit in the hands of the non-PERS spouse has a different value than the value in the hands of the PERS spouse. It is crucial that your divorce attorney is aware of both of these issues.

2.  PERS beneficiary designations are not immediately changed by a divorce judgment.  Unless you change your PERS beneficiary designation, your benefits upon death will be awarded to your ex-spouse (if he or she was the designated beneficiary).  Sometimes this is intentional, but it is often not.

About Daniel Margolin

Daniel Margolin is a founding partner of Stephens & Margolin LLP and a Portland, Oregon native. His practice focuses on all aspects of family law litigation. Dan applies his litigation expertise to provide additional expertise when assisting clients with Family Law Appeals and Collaborative Divorce matters. To find out more or contact Daniel Margolin, visit Stephens & Margolin LLP
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2 Responses to New Caselaw – PERS benefit estimates

  1. Bob says:

    In regards to the 2nd item (designated beneficiary): According to PERS, if you divorce, the ex-spouse is considered to have pre-deceased the PERS member. I’m not understanding why PERS states one thing and this article states another. Can you explain?
    Thanks.

  2. I’ve never heard of PERS before…???

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