• TSP-3, Designation of Beneficiary

Should you complete a Designation of Beneficiary Form?
If you want to leave your money according to the statutory order of precedence, there's no need to send the TSP Designation of Beneficiary form. Complete and send it only if you want to leave your account to other beneficiaries or to divide it in a manner that's different from the order of precedence.
Is your beneficiary designation up to date?
Be sure to review your beneficiary designation when your personal situation changes. Marriage, the birth or adoption of a child, a divorce, or even the death of a beneficiary might necessitate a beneficiary change. Otherwise, in the event of your death, the money in your TSP account may not be distributed according to your wishes.
Is your address up to date?
Be sure that the TSP has your current mailing address before you submit your Designation of Beneficiary form. Visit Your Mailing Address.

Make sure that, in the event of your death, your TSP account will be distributed according to your wishes.

How the TSP Distributes Death Benefits


Distribution According to the TSP Designation of Beneficiary

Did you know that when you die, the TSP will not honor a will when distributing your account? Neither will it honor a prenuptial agreement, a separation agreement, a property settlement agreement, a court order, or a trust document.

The only document the TSP will use to distribute death benefits is Form TSP-3, Designation of Beneficiary (formerly TSP-U-3 for uniformed services members). By law, the TSP must pay your properly designated beneficiary, or beneficiaries, under all circumstances.

Distribution According to the Statutory Order of Precedence

If you do not have a Designation of Beneficiary form on file with the TSP, your money will be distributed according to the following order of precedence required by law:

  1. To your spouse;
  2. If none, to your child or children equally, and to the descendants of deceased children;
  3. If none, to your parents equally or your surviving parent;
  4. If none, to your appointed executor or administrator of your estate;
  5. If none, to your next of kin who is entitled to your estate under the laws of the state in which you resided at the time of your death.

Who Can You Designate as a Beneficiary?


Primary Beneficiaries

You can designate one or more persons, a corporation, trust, legal entity, or your estate to receive your TSP account in the event of your death. You will have to indicate the share of your account that you would like each beneficiary to receive.

If you have both a traditional balance and a Roth balance in your TSP account, you cannot designate which balance each beneficiary will receive. Both balances will be paid proportionally to each beneficiary according to the designated share of the entire TSP account.

Contingent Beneficiaries

You can also designate contingent beneficiaries. These are persons or entities that would receive the primary beneficiary's share of your account if that primary beneficiary were to die before you.

If you don't designate any contingent beneficiaries, the share of any primary beneficiary who dies before you will be distributed proportionally among all of the surviving primary beneficiaries that you named. If no other primary beneficiaries remain, your death benefit will be paid according to the statutory order of precedence.

How to Designate a Beneficiary


To designate a beneficiary, or beneficiaries, for your TSP account, follow these steps:

  1. Complete Form TSP-3, Designation of Beneficiary. You can also contact the ThriftLine or ask your agency or service for a copy of the form.
  2. Sign and witness each page of Form TSP-3 according to the directions.
  3. Return the completed form to the address indicated on the form or fax it to the number provided. You must send the form directly to the TSP. Do not submit Form TSP-3 to your agency or service. Be aware that your beneficiary designation will not be valid unless it is received by the TSP on or before the date of your death.
  4. You will receive a confirmation letter in the mail after the TSP receives your form and processes it. You will also receive a letter from the TSP if there are errors on your form that prevent it from being accepted.
Any beneficiary forms that you might have on file with your agency or service (including FEGLI, SGLI, etc.) are not valid for the TSP and cannot be used to determine the distribution of your TSP account after your death.
No matter how long the TSP has had your most recent Designation of Beneficiary form, we will continue to consider it valid unless you send us a new form requesting that we cancel or change it.

Have You Already Named a Beneficiary?


If you don't remember whether you've submitted a Designation of Beneficiary form, you can find out by checking the information on your quarterly or annual participant statements.

Your quarterly statement indicates that you have a beneficiary designation on file and tells you the date of your last designation.

Your annual statement not only tells you whether you have the form on file and the date of your designation, but also gives you the names of the first 12 primary beneficiaries you designated.