Reg Jones Expert's View

Reg Jones

In my last article, I pointed out why it’s so important to have your affairs in order in the event of your death and went over survivor benefits. Now I want to dig a little deeper.

I’ll start with a question. Have you checked your Official Personnel Folder to see who would benefit if you were to die? Sounds like a silly question, but it isn’t.

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If you are like most federal employees, you designated those beneficiaries when you first entered government and you haven’t checked back since. If nothing has changed, fine. However, if marriage, divorce or death have occurred since you went to work for Uncle Sam, you better go to your servicing personnel office, look in your OPF, and make sure that those you designated then are still the ones you want to receive those benefits if you die.

There have been too many cases where the designation filed in the OPF weren’t the ones the deceased would have picked if he were still alive. This happens most frequently with FEGLI because you were covered by that benefit on the first day you entered government service.

If you haven’t changed your designation(s) since, the name(s) you put down (or their heirs) will get those benefits, not the one(s) you would want to get them now. The same is true of your TSP designation(s).

To change a previous FEGLI designation, you’ll have to fill out a Standard Form 1823. To change a TSP designation, fill out TSP-3. You can get the OPM form from your personnel office or you can download it by going to www.opm.gov and clicking on Forms. You can get the TSP form by going to www.tsp.gov and clicking on Forms & Publications.

If you die and are one of the rare ones who never filled out a designation of beneficiary form for either FEGLI or the TSP, the benefits will be distributed according to what’s called the standard order of precedence: first, your spouse; second, your child or children in equal shares, with the share of any deceased child distributed among the descendents of that child; third, your parents in equal shares or the entire amount to the surviving parent; fourth, the duly appointed executor or administrator of you estate; and, fifth, your next of kin under the laws of the place you were living when you died.

Previous column: Let’s Talk About Your Federal Survivor Benefits

Note: If you are divorced, what happens to those benefits may have been settled by a court order.

See also, Your OPF Is Your Retirement Backbone

FERS Retirement Planning Guide 2020