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Article / Name it so they can claim it

Name it so they can claim it.

Why listing a beneficiary can be life-changing.

Here’s the scenario: You work hard. You have some money saved away that you can’t touch yet, but you can gift it to whomever you want. The caveat is that you cannot be witness to see your designated recipient receive it. So, how would you make sure they receive what you want to give them?

We call it a Beneficiary Form. It’s not new. But it is important. When (not if) you die, the benefits you have earned under the Plan, either life insurance due, vacation or annuity benefits earned, or pension pre-retirement death benefits, will be payable to someone. Don’t you want a say in who that person is?

We are not guaranteed that life will work out like we expect it to. Accidents and injuries happen. This is why we plan for the future in case a fateful day comes when we least expect it.

Complete your Beneficiary Form. Here’s why.
Under the St. Louis – Kansas City Carpenters Regional Health Plan, there is a no-cost life insurance benefit for members and their eligible dependents covered under the Plan, as well as an accidental death & dismemberment benefit for members only. Completing the Plan’s Beneficiary Designation form satisfies the assignment of a beneficiary for the health and vacation plans. There are also benefits that members may earn under Carpenters’ Annuity Plan and/or Pension Plan. The annuity plan has its own beneficiary form; however, if there is no annuity beneficiary(ies) assigned, the member’s spouse is the default beneficiary. In contrast, by default, the pension beneficiary is the member’s spouse if the member has been married for at least one year. Otherwise, the pension pre-retirement beneficiary will default to the beneficiary(ies) on record under the health plan

Startling fact: Of our 20,000 members, currently more than 5,000 members do not have a health plan beneficiary form on file. So, what happens to your benefits when you don’t have a bene form on file? Who gets to choose who gets your hard-earned benefits? Have you ever said to yourself: “I just feel like giving this money to the state?” Likely not.

With a Beneficiary Form on file, your money is paid out with YOUR instruction.
When Carpenters is notified of a member passing, all departments with whom the member had benefits are then notified to determine if benefits are payable from that department. Possible benefits may be available from the health plan (life insurance and/or accidental death & dismemberment benefits), vacation, annuity and/or pension plans.

If the member has a beneficiary form on file in any department, the beneficiary(ies) is contacted and the process for payout of death benefits begins.
  • Health and vacation benefits are payable to the beneficiary on the health plan beneficiary form.
  • Annuity benefits are payable to beneficiary named on the annuity beneficiary form. If no beneficiary is named for annuity, the beneficiary will default to the member’s surviving spouse. If the member is unmarried, the default beneficiary(ies) will be the member’s children in equal shares, or, if none, to the member’s estate.
  • Pre-retirement pension benefits are payable to the member’s spouse if the member has been married for at least one year. If the member is unmarried, the benefit will be paid to the beneficiary(ies) named under the health plan.

No form on file? Payout of your benefits gets a little more…involved.
When a member dies and does NOT have a beneficiary form on file upon their passing, the health plan’s Summary Plan Description states that death benefits are payable in the following hierarchy:
  1. Spouse
  2. Children, payable as defined below:
    1. 18 and older
    2. Under 18:
      1. Health plan: MetLife life insurance sets up a trust for the child(ren); depending on state regulations, when the child(ren) becomes of age, they will receive the benefit payout.
      2. Pension plan: Under the Missouri Transfer to Minor Act, a custodian is selected, and the benefits are paid accordingly to the custodian, or conservator.
  3. Parents
  4. Siblings
  5. Other?! Carpenters makes all exhaustive efforts to find a payable beneficiary on your behalf, following all federal and state regulations. Remember cousin Susie you didn’t get along with? She counts as family – and if she’s the only blood relative, she might just get your money if you don’t select your beneficiary instead. Even more, if no one can be located, the money you earned could potentially go to the state.

If you leave the union, don’t forget about your benefits.
If the time comes that you choose to leave the union and the excellent benefits you’ve earned for an alternative profession, remember that you need to keep in touch with our benefits’ office. When your pension is vested and in a holding pattern for you until retirement, keep us updated if there are significant changes. If you go through a divorce, please provide the divorce decree. Remember, if you are married, your pension beneficiary is your spouse if you have been married for at least one year. However, if you are not married or are now divorced and need to select a new beneficiary for any reason, please complete a pre-retirement pension beneficiary form. Unsure of your beneficiary status? Call the pension office!

A note about minor children.
In any situation, if the named beneficiary(ies), or next of kin if a beneficiary is not named, is under the age of 18, there must be a legal guardian or trust established to receive the benefit payout until the child turns 18. Otherwise, for health plan benefits, MetLife will hold the life insurance benefit for the minor child(ren) until the child is legally able to receive them. For all other benefits payable, a custodian is selected per the Missouri Transfer to Minor Act, and the benefits will be paid accordingly to the custodian of the minor children.

The choice is yours. Earn your living. Prepare for the future you want and, at the same time, the one you don’t. Questions? Call and speak to our Member Service team Monday – Friday 7am – 5 pm. We’re here and happy to help.

Health & Vacation Plan Beneficiary form
Annuity Plan Beneficiary form, married participant
Annuity Plan Beneficiary form, single participant
St. Louis Pension Plan Pre-Retirement Death Benefit Beneficiary form
St. Louis Pension Plan Post-Retirement Beneficiary Change form

**These forms are also available on under the appropriate plan/Forms.