Several federal benefit programs provide for death benefits, but such forms can easily be filed and forgotten. Benefits counselors say that those approaching retirement should be sure to review those forms to be sure that they reflect the individual’s current wishes.

Some of the key forms are:

* SF 2823, Designation of Beneficiary, Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI);
* SF 2808, Designation of Beneficiary-CSRS;
* SF 3102, Designation of Beneficiary-FERS;
* SF 1152, Designation of Beneficiary-Unpaid Compensation of Deceased Civilian Employee; and
* TSP 3, Designation of Beneficiary-TSP.

These are available through personnel office or at www.opm.gov/forms for all but the TSP form, which is at www.tsp.gov.

Under these programs if a designation of beneficiary form is not on file, benefits will be paid according to a standard order of precedence: your spouse; then your child or children in equal shares, with the share of any deceased child distributed among the descendants of that child; then your parents in equal shares or the entire amount to the surviving parent; then the duly appointed executor or administrator of you estate; then your next of kin under the laws of the place you were living at the time of your death.

A will or other estate document generally does not override the designations made on these forms. Thus, the government might have to pay benefits to someone you listed years ago rather than someone the employee currently would wish to receive the benefits.

Be sure to review your designations of beneficiary at any important life event–the birth or adoption of a child, the death of a family member, a marriage or divorce, or any other significant change in family relationships.