Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Designation of Beneficiary Forms

Many employees file a designation of beneficiary form and then never think about it again. However, it is a good practice to periodically take the time to review these forms, especially when you have a significant change in your life such as a marriage, birth of child, or a divorce.

« Return to Pay and Benefits — Retirement Forms


These types of events do not automatically change a beneficiary election on file. Your original designation remains in force whether it still reflects your wishes or not, until you submit another form to cancel prior designations or to designate a new beneficiary.

A designation of beneficiary form outlines your desire to have the funds due upon your death paid out in a particular way. There are four types:

Type Form link Send to
Life Insurance SF-2823 Benefits Specialist
Thrift Savings Plan Log in to your TSP Account Contact TSP
Retirement - CSRS SF-3102 (Revised 10/2022) Mail to OPM
Retirement - FERS SF-3102 (Revised 10/2022) Benefits Specialist
Unpaid Compensation SF-1152 Benefits Specialist

Additional details are on the Beneficiary Web site.  You can complete the forms online but will need to print them in order to provide the required signatures. You cannot complete beneficiary forms by using Employee Express.


Must I complete designation of beneficiary forms?  No, these forms are not required. If the order of precedence listed below meets your needs, you don't need to do anything. However, if you wish to name a person or persons not included below, or name them in a different order, you will need to have a beneficiary form on file. If you do complete any beneficiary forms, it is your responsibility to keep them up-to-date to reflect your current wishes.


Order of Precedence:

  1. to your designated beneficiary(ies)
  2. if there is no designated beneficiary, to your widow or widower
  3. if none, to your child or children in equal shares, with the share of any deceased child distributed among that child's descendants
  4. if none, to your parents in equal shares or the entire amount to your surviving parent
  5. if none, to the executor or administrator of your estate
  6. if none, to your next of kin under the laws of the State where you lived at the time of your death

Note:  For life insurance (FEGLI), if there is a qualifying court order or an assignment of benefits on file, they take precedence over any designation of beneficiary on file and the normal order of precedence above.


What are common errors in completing beneficiary forms that I should avoid?  Be sure to read the instructions and review the examples of how to properly complete the form. Designation forms must be complete and free of errors. A designation may be invalid or unacceptable if:

  • You do not sign the designation.
  • The designation is signed by your personal representative, power of attorney, or guardian instead of you.
  • The designation is not signed by two witnesses.
  • The designation contains one or more cross-outs, erasures, or alterations.
  • One or both of the witnesses is also named as a beneficiary.
  • The amounts you designated do not total 100 percent (or 1.0, if you designated fractions).
  • The designation is not completed in ink.
  • The designation is not completed in ink.


Do I really need to have two witnesses to my signature?  Yes, you will need to sign each form in the presence of two witnesses.  A witness can be any person that is not named as a beneficiary. Your personal acquaintances can best serve as witnesses should the designation be contested in a court of law. If attachments are added to the designation of beneficiary form(s), they must be signed and witnessed also.


When can I make a change in beneficiary?  You can make a change at any time. Review them periodically to ensure that they still reflect your wishes. You can access your eOPF and sort the “Form Number” column to quickly scan for the form numbers – SF 1152, SF 2823, and SF 3102. For TSP and CSRS, it is best to complete a new form and submit it if you’re not sure what you have on file since they are not kept in your eOPF.



Contact your Benefits Specialist if you have any questions regarding the information.


« Return to Pay and Benefits — Retirement Forms