Retirement & Financial Planning Report

Do you know who will benefit from your Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) or Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) account? If you are like most employees, you made that decision years ago. If so, you need to make sure that whoever you designated back then is still the one(s) you want to receive the benefits in the event of your death.

The name(s) you put down then may not be the one(s) you would pick today. This is especially true of FEGLI, which may have been put down on the day you entered government service. If you don’t take steps to change that designation, they (or their heirs) will be the one(s) who will get those benefits, not the ones you would choose now.


A classic example: If you as a single person 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. There also have been numerous cases involving divorce, in which the benefits were designated to a spouse and not changed after a divorce and remarriage. The benefits would go to whoever is named on the form, and that principle has held up in court time after time.

To change a previous FEGLI designation, you’ll need to fill out a Standard Form 1823, available at The form for changing a TSP designation is the TSP-3, available at

Note: If you 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: Your spouse; your child or children in equal shares, with the share of any deceased child distributed among the descendants 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.