A will does not control the payouts of your retirement, life insurance, and Thrift Savings Plan account at your death. In most cases what will control them is the standard order of precedence unless you have filled out the proper designation of beneficiary forms.
Each has its own form. For retirement, it’s Standard Form 2808 (CSRS) or 3102 (FERS). For the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance it’s Standard Form 2823. And for the Thrift Savings Plan it’s TSP-3. The Standard Forms can be downloaded from the OPM web site at www.opm.gov/forms/html/sf.asp. For the TSP form, go to www.tsp.gov/forms/index-forms.html.
Having filled out these forms once doesn’t necessarily end your need to deal with them. Circumstances change, for example, with marriage, the birth of a child, divorce, the death of loved ones, etc. If they do, you may want to resubmit those forms with different choices.
There may be limits on your ability to completely control where your benefits go. For example, a court order may assign some or all of your FEGLI benefits to a former spouse.
If you don’t designate a beneficiary, your benefits will be distributed according to the standard order of precedence:
◦ to your widow or widower;
◦ if none of the above, to your child or children, with the share of any deceased child distributed among the descendents of that child;
◦ if none of the above, to your parents in equal shares or the entire amount to your surviving parent;
◦ if none of the above, to the executor or administrator of your estate; and
◦ if none of the above, to your next of kin under the laws of the estate where you were living when you died.
Barring a court order, the only person who can receive a survivor annuity is your spouse. However, if you weren’t married when you died, your contributions to the retirement system would be distributed either according to your designation of beneficiary or under the standard order of precedence. The same would be true if you were retired, had no one eligible for a spousal/former spouse annuity, and hadn’t received all your contributions to the retirement system in annuity payments.