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At Evans & Davis, we fully support Oklahoma education and our Oklahoma teachers. My parents are retired teachers – my father taught high school special education, and my mother taught junior high special education, math, and science. Growing up, I was able to see the sacrifices they made. Whether it was providing clothes, food, extra tutoring, or just a listening ear, my parents made sure that all of “their” kids were taken care of.

The Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System takes care of our teacher’s retirement accounts, but they also have a program to cover our teacher’s final expenses. They guarantee a $5,000 Death Benefit to all retired members and provide an $18,000 Death Benefit to working teachers who pass away while actively contributing to OTRS. These benefits are one way the State of Oklahoma works to take care of those who regularly go above and beyond.

Notably, if this Death Benefit is assigned to be paid to an individual beneficiary or a trust, OTRS will withhold 20% of that benefit for tax purposes. However, assigning your Death Benefit to a funeral home ensures the full amount of your benefit will be paid to help ease funeral costs. This is different from most life insurance policies where the death benefit passes tax-free.

Active and Retired members can change their beneficiaries using the Change of Beneficiary form on the OTRS website. In addition to the Death Benefit, any balance in a client’s general retirement account is paid upon death to listed beneficiaries or the client’s estate, so members must keep beneficiary forms up to date.

Oklahoma teachers, like my parents, serve our communities in so many amazing ways. If you are a teacher and want to learn more about these benefits, avoid probate, and maximize what you leave to your beneficiaries, call us today and schedule an appointment.