Checking Beneficiary Designations

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“My wife and I updated our wills two years ago, it states that all of our estate is to go to the survivor and if something were to happen to either one of us. When the survivor dies it then goes to our two children. We’ve made the estate the beneficiary of our life insurance, annuity, and TSP. How often do we need to review our beneficiary and estate plan?” – Dave.

Most federal employees check their beneficiary designations only when a qualifying life event occurs, and that is not often enough!

We have sat with the widow(ers) who swore that their deceased spouse had updated all the beneficiary designations years ago only to find out – after it was too late – that the beneficiary designations reflected a former spouse, a parent, a child, or no one at all which means the asset is subject to probate.

As a financial planner, there are two conversations that we dread having with clients, and that is when we have to tell a surviving spouse that either,

You do not have enough money to survive or,
You are not the beneficiary of your deceased spouse’s estate.

Grief is all of the unexpressed love we have for someone and is painful enough to navigate alone without the added turmoil of having to think, “why didn’t they love me enough to….”

As a Federal Employee, we recommend changing your beneficiary designations routinely. We do this every two years with our federal employee clients as an exercise to ensure that everything is as you want it to be and that no assets have been forgotten about.

Federal Employee Beneficiary Designations

As a Federal employee, you have several,

  • Assets are transferred by Title first. This means that if the asset has a beneficiary listed, and they should, your asset will transfer to that person first.
  • Even if you have a Will or Trust that states otherwise, assets are always transferred by title first.
  • There are several beneficiary designations that are applicable to just FERS Employees.
 
Checking Beneficiary Designations
How to update beneficiary designations as a Federal Employee

Federal Employee Group Life Insurance Beneficiaries

The Federal Employee Group Life Insurance Beneficiaries Designation Form can be found here. You can update your beneficiary forms whenever you want.

Contacting your agency’s human resources department can verify who you have listed as your beneficiary. Your beneficiary designations are kept on file in your Official Personnel File.

Thrift Savings Plan Beneficiary Designation

The Thrift Savings Plan Beneficiaries Designation Form can be found here or, you can log into your TSP account and update your designations online. You can update your beneficiary forms whenever you want.

You can verify who you have listed as your beneficiary by logging into your TSP account online. Your beneficiary designations are kept on file in your electronic TSP File.

FERS Annuity “Pension” Beneficiary

The Federal Employee Retirement System Annuity Beneficiaries Designation Form can be found here. You can update your beneficiary forms whenever you want.

Contacting your agency’s human resources department can verify who you have listed as your beneficiary. Your beneficiary designations are kept on file in your Official Personnel File.

FERS Employee Last Paycheck Beneficiary (Unpaid compensation)

As a Federal Employee, you can designate the beneficiary of your last paycheck. The beneficiaries are left here to determine how any unpaid salary and lump sum annual leave are distributed upon your passing. The Designation Form can be found here. You can update your beneficiary forms whenever you want.

Contacting your agency’s human resources department can verify who you have listed as your beneficiary. Your beneficiary designations are kept on file in your Official Personnel File.

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2 Responses

  1. Social Security is taxed 85%; in other words, 15% is NOT taxed. Does the FERS Supplement also fall under the same criteria?

  2. I am a single FERS retiree. Should I designate a beneficiary for my FERS pension? Alternatively, does my FERS pension terminate upon my death?

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