The Thrift Savings Plan just updated Form TSP-3, Designation of Beneficiary earlier this month.  This is one of the most important TSP forms and, like most government forms, has more pages of instructions than it has pages to actually complete.  When you download the form, there are three pages to complete, but the download is eight pages!

You would use the TSP-3 to designate a beneficiary or beneficiaries to receive your TSP account after your death.  When you submit a new designation of beneficiary form, it automatically cancels all prior designations you had submitted.


If you would rather have your TSP distributed according to the “statutory order of precedence” (SOP) you would not want to fill out this form.  If you have a TSP-3 on file and wish to change to the SOP, you would need to cancel your existing TSP-3.  The SOP is as follows:

1) to your spouse;

2) if none, to your child or children equally (per stirpes);

3) if none, to your parents equally or to your surviving parent;

4) if none, to the appointed executor or administrator of your estate;

5) if none, to your next of kin who is entitled to your estate under the law of intestacy of the state that was your legal residence at the time of your death.

Among the changes made are: 1) you now need only one witness, though that witness must sign and date all pages and cannot be named as a beneficiary on the TSP-3.  2) The form allows for naming more primary (up to 8) and contingent (up to 4) beneficiaries.  More can be named by adding extra pages to the form.


The TSP, like OPM, won’t process any forms with corrections.  They are specific on the cover page, instructing you not to cross out, erase, or otherwise change any information on the form.

If you are filing a new TSP-3, make sure that it has the date 5/2017 on it; all previous versions are obsolete and will not be accepted by the TSP.  You can download and/or print copies of the new form from the “forms and publications” section of the TSP website https://www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-3.pdf.