John Grobe, Federal Career Experts

The devil is in the details! And the Thrift Board just threw some devilish details at plan participants.

Most of us are familiar with the TSP’s requirement that almost every single action we want to take with regards to our account has to be notarized. It’s annoying and, in the opinion of many, it’s unnecessary – But it’s the rule we have to play by.


For a fair part of the pandemic, the Thrift Board eliminated the requirement to have plan documents notarized, but they recently re-instated it. This means that now we will need to allow extra time to have our documents notarized before we send them in. If we utilize the TSP “Wizards” for our action, we will still likely need to print out the document (e.g., for spousal consent, transfer information, etc.) and have the resulting print document notarized.

This doesn’t sound too bad – right? After all, we had to go through the same process before the pandemic – what’s so difficult about having to resume the process?

Well, there’s another pandemic induced problem that will exacerbate the situation of the renewal of the requirement to have signatures notarized – at least for some of us. Many states have extended notary commissions that were about to expire because of the pandemic. The Thrift Savings Plan is now requiring any notary whose commission was extended due to the pandemic to submit information indicating that the commission has been extended, or they will refuse to process the document.

Here’s what the TSP said to notaries in an email message sent out on Wednesday, October 28, 2020. “If the state in which you reside has extended notary commissions as a result of the pandemic, you must include information about the extension with any TSP forms you notarize. You may include this information as an annotation, or as supporting documentation from your state. We will not be able to process forms that have been notarized with an expired commission unless you include an annotation or provide supporting documentation.” Of course, if the notary’s commission has not expired there’s no problem.

If you will be taking any actions with your TSP account, be sure that the individual who notarizes your forms either has an unexpired commission or is aware of this requirement. You don’t want to have the TSP refuse to process a form you sent in and have it cause a delay that might have adverse consequences for you (e.g., missing a required deadline, etc.).

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