Designating a Beneficiary: An Important Planning Decision

When you join the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS), you are asked to designate a beneficiary. This is important because your beneficiary may be eligible to receive certain benefits if you die while still working. A beneficiary can be any person you choose – it does not have to be a family member. You can also name any organization, such as a charity or religious institution, or your estate. It’s also important to review your beneficiaries regularly to reflect your current wishes.

Types of Beneficiaries

There are two types of beneficiaries: primary and contingent.

A primary beneficiary is the person who will receive any benefit payable. You can list more than one primary beneficiary. If you do, each primary beneficiary will share the benefit equally. You can also choose different percentages for each beneficiary, as long as they total 100 percent.

Example: John Doe, 50 percent; Jane Doe, 25 percent; and Mary Doe, 25 percent.

A contingent beneficiary is a possible beneficiary who will receive the benefit only if all the primary beneficiaries die before you. Multiple contingent beneficiaries will share the benefit equally, unless you choose to divide the benefit among them differently.

How Do I Designate a Beneficiary?

Even though you designated a beneficiary when you first joined NYSLRS, you can update your beneficiaries at any time while you’re still in active service. You can submit a Designation of Beneficiary form (RS5127) to change your beneficiaries. Be sure to include the names, addresses and birth dates of all the beneficiaries you wish to designate. You can name up to four primary and four contingent beneficiaries on the form. Please contact us if you want to designate more beneficiaries, as we cannot accept attachments to the form.

Be sure to sign and date the form, and have your signature notarized. The notary must include his or her date of notary expiration and should not be designated as one of your beneficiaries. We can’t accept the form if there are any alterations, including erasures or the use of correction fluid.

Remember, submitting a new form replaces any previous beneficiaries you have chosen. The changes become effective when we receive and approve your form.

Where Can I Get More Information?

You can refer to our publication, Life Changes: Why Should I Designate a Beneficiary?,for more information about designating a beneficiary. If you have any other questions, please contact us.

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