Expert's View

Do you know who will benefit from your Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) or Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) account? All too many federal employees made decisions about who would get those benefits years ago. If that’s true of you, you need to go to your servicing personnel office and check your Official Personnel File (OPF). That way you can make sure that whoever you designated then is still the one you want to receive the benefits in the event of your death.


Often, the name or names put down then are not the one(s) you would pick today. This is particularly true of FEGLI, which was usually acquired on the day you entered government service. If you don’t take steps to change that designation, the name(s) you put down (or their heirs) will be the one(s) who will get those benefits, not the ones you would choose today. For example, if you originally designated your parent(s) or a sibling and later got married, that original designation would probably not be the way you’d like to have your benefits distributed if you died tomorrow.

To change a previous FEGLI designation, you’ll need to fill out a Standard Form 1823. The form for changing a TSP designation is the TSP-3. Both forms are available from your personnel office.

If you never filled out a designation of beneficiary form for either FEGLI or the TSP, the benefits usually will be distributed according to what’s called the standard order of precedence: Your spouse; your child or children in equal shares, with the share of any deceased child distributed among the descendents of that child; your parents in equal shares or the entire amount to the surviving parent; the duly appointed executor or administrator of you estate; and, finally, your next of kin under the laws of the place you were living at the time of your death. Of course, if you are divorced, what happens to those benefits may have been settled by a court order – or not. It’s up to you to find out.