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 DESIGNATION OF BENEFICIARY

A designation of beneficiary is a legal document outlining how benefits will be paid in the event of your death. Benefits for life insurance, retirement, Thrift Savings Plan, and unpaid compensation are automatically distributed in the following order of precedence:

  • First, to your widow or widower;
  • Second, to your child or children, with the share of any deceased child distributed among descendants of that child;
  • Third, if none of the above, to your parents in equal shares or the entire amount to your surviving parent;
  • Fourth, if none of the above, to the executor or administrator of your estate;
  • Fifth, if none of the above, to your other next of kin as determined under the laws of the State where you lived.

An exception to the order of precedence is for Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI). If you assigned ownership of your FEGLI, benefits will be paid:

  • First, to the beneficiaries designated by your assignees, if any;
  • Second, if there is no beneficiary, to your assignees.

If you did not assign FEGLI ownership and there is a valid court order on file, benefits will be paid according to that court order.

You are not required to complete a designation of beneficiary form if you want your benefits distributed according to the order of precedence. If you want benefits paid to someone else or in a different order, you must designate a beneficiary.

If you complete a designation of beneficiary form, you are responsible for ensuring that it remains accurate. Benefits will be paid based on a valid designation, regardless of whether that designation still reflects your intentions. You should review your beneficiary designation whenever you have a significant change in your life, such as a marriage, divorce, or death. A divorce does not invalidate a designation that names your former spouse as beneficiary; you must complete a new designation form. You should file a new form whenever there is a change in a beneficiary's address or name.

Common Errors on Designation Forms

The beneficiary forms include instructions and examples of how to properly complete the form. Designation forms must be complete and free of errors. A designation may be invalid or unacceptable if:

  • You do not sign the designation.
  • The designation is signed by your personal representative, power of attorney, or guardian instead of you.
  • The designation is not signed by two witnesses.
  • The designation contains one or more cross-outs, erasures, or alterations.
  • One or both of the witnesses is also named as a beneficiary.
  • The amounts you designated do not total 100 percent (or 1.0, if you designated fractions).

 ACTION REQUIRED TO DESIGNATE A BENEFICIARY

Federal Employee Group Life Insurance (FEGLI)

Complete this beneficiary form if you are enrolled in FEGLI. If you have a court order that designates how life insurance benefits will be paid, the Civilian Benefits Center must receive a certified copy of the court order before your death. The court order can be submitted by anyone.

  1. Complete an SF 2823, Designation of Beneficiary, FEGLI. You can designate a person or institution as a trustee under the terms of a trust agreement to receive the life insurance benefits upon your death. There are two types of trusts: inter vivos trust (one that you establish during your lifetime) and testamentary trust (one that you create by your will at death). To make sure that designations to a trust are clear, and to allow quick identification of the entitled party, you should use the suggested formats for the inter vivos trust and testamentary trust. To be valid, the trustee designation must be attached to and made a part of the SF 2823. The SF 2823 should state "See attached" in the space for the designation.

    If the SF 2823 does not have enough room for you to list all your beneficiaries, write "See attached" in Part B of the SF 2823 and complete CBC 12870-19, Attachment to SF 2823 with the additional names. The same witnesses should witness both of your signatures and sign both the SF 2823 and the CBC 12870-19.
  2. Mail the original SF 2823 to the Civilian Benefits Center. No copies are necessary. To be a valid designation of beneficiary, the SF 2823 must be properly completed and received by the Civilian Benefits Center prior to your death.
  3. The Civilian Benefits Center will certify the SF 2823, file the original in your official personnel folder, and send you a copy of the certified form.

Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).

Designates distribution for lump-sum retirement benefits only and does not affect the right of any person who qualifies to receive survivor annuity benefits. Complete this beneficiary form if your retirement plan is CSRS.

  1. Complete an SF 2808, Designation of Beneficiary, CSRS. You can designate a person or institution as a trustee under the terms of a trust agreement to receive any CSRS lump-sum benefits upon your death. There are two types of trusts: inter vivos trust (one that you establish during your lifetime) and testamentary trust (one that you create by your will at death). To make sure that designations to trusts are clear, and to allow quick identification of the entitled party, you should use the suggested formats for the inter vivos trust and testamentary trust. To be valid, the trustee designation must be attached to and made a part of the SF 2808. The SF 2808 should state "See attached" in the space for the designation.
  2. Mail the form to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) as directed on the form. Do not submit the SF 2808 to the Civilian Benefits Center. To be a valid designation of beneficiary, the SF 2808 must be received and certified by OPM on or before the date of your death.

Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).

Designates distribution for lump-sum retirement benefits only and does not affect the right of any person who qualifies to receive survivor annuity benefits or the basic employee death benefit. Complete this beneficiary form if your retirement plan is FERS.

  1. Complete an SF 3102, Designation of Beneficiary, FERS. You can designate a person or institution as a trustee under the terms of a trust agreement to receive any FERS lump-sum benefits upon your death. There are two types of trusts: inter vivos trust (one that you establish during your lifetime) and testamentary trust (one that you create by your will at death). To make sure that designations to trusts are clear, and to allow quick identification of the entitled party, you should use the suggested formats for the inter vivos trust and testamentary trust. To be valid, the trustee designation must be attached to and made a part of the SF 3102. The SF 3102 should state "See attached" in the space for the designation.
  2. Mail the original SF 3102 to the Civilian Benefits Center. No copies are necessary. To be a valid designation of beneficiary, the SF 3102 must be properly completed and received by the Civilian Benefits Center prior to your death.
  3. The Civilian Benefits Center will certify the SF 3102, file the original in your official personnel folder, and send you a copy of the certified form.

Thrift Savings Plan.

Designates distribution of any money in your Thrift Savings Account. Complete this designation if your retirement plan is CSRS and you contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan, or if your retirement plan is FERS.

  1. Complete a TSP-3, Designation of Beneficiary, Thrift Savings Plan. The mention of your TSP account in your will (or another document, such as a prenuptial agreement) has no effect on the disposition of your account after your death. A will is not a substitute for form TSP-3. However, you can use form TSP-3 to designate your estate or a trust to receive your TSP account.
  2. Fax or mail the TSP-3 as directed on the form. Do not submit the TSP-3 to the Civilian Benefits Center. To be a valid designation of beneficiary, the TSP-3 must be properly completed and received by the TSP record keeper on or before the date of your death.

 ACTION REQUIRED CONT

Unpaid Compensation.

Designates distribution for any pay, allowances, or other amounts due at the time of death, such as current salary, cash awards, and lump-sum annual leave payment. All employees can complete this designation.

  1. Complete an SF 1152, Designation of Beneficiary, Unpaid Compensation of Deceased Civilian Employee.
  2. Mail the original SF 1152 to the Civilian Benefits Center. No copies are necessary. To be a valid designation of beneficiary, the SF 1152 must be properly completed and received by the Civilian Benefits Center prior to your death.
  3. The Civilian Benefits Center will certify the SF 1152, file the original in your official personnel folder, and send you a copy of the certified form.

Designation of a Recipient of the Federal Employees' Compensation Act Death Gratuity Payment under Section 1105 of Public Law 110-181 (Section 8102a).

Designates distribution of the death gratuity payment of up to $100,000 when a Federal civilian employee dies of injuries incurred in connection with his or her service with an Armed Force in a contingency operation.

  1. Complete a CA-40. CA-40 Designation of a Recipient of the Federal Employees' Compensation Act Death Gratuity Payment. Read the instructions on the form carefully since they are different from other beneficiary forms.
  2. Mail the original CA-40 to the Civilian Benefits Center. No copies are necessary. To be a valid designation of beneficiary, the CA-40 must be properly completed and received by the Civilian Benefits Center prior to your death.
  3. The Civilian Benefits Center will certify the CA-40, file the original in your official personnel folder, and send you a copy of the certified form.
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