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The TSP has temporarily waived a requirement that married account holders get notarized permission from their spouses before making most withdrawal decisions, citing stay at home orders and other restrictions making it difficult at present to get documents notarized.

By law, the spouse of an account holder is entitled to a joint life annuity with a 50 percent survivor benefit, although in practice few TSP withdrawals come in that form. Other forms of withdrawals require signed consent of the spouse; TSP rules have required the signature to be notarized even though the law does not require it.

An April 17 Federal Register notice says that due to the disruptions in normal work due to the Coronavirus, some states are allowing remote notarization but “many TSP participants will confront extraordinary uncertainty due to rapid evolution of state laws and unfamiliarity with the technology used for remote notarization. In addition, the TSP does not currently have the technological workflow to allow participants to submit remotely notarized forms electronically.”

“Under these conditions, the regulation requiring spousal consent to be notarized has become an extraordinary hurdle for married TSP participants who need to request a withdrawal during this difficult time,” the TSP said.

It added: “Married participants must still obtain their spouse’s consent. The consent must be evidenced by the spouse’s signature (or any electronic signature alternative that the TSP has deemed sufficient to constitute written consent). Participants are reminded that any intentional false statement or willful misrepresentation concerning their marital status or provision of their spouse’s consent is punishable by fine or imprisonment of up to 5 years, or both.”

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