When you designate a beneficiary, you choose a person to receive a benefit after your death. By choosing a beneficiary, you’re ensuring that money goes to the person you want to receive it.
Why Should I Designate a Beneficiary? is a short, but informative booklet that explains beneficiary designations and how you can change them.
It is important to designate a beneficiary because that person may be eligible to receive a death benefit. If you are a State employee, they may also be eligible for New York State survivor’s benefit. Most retirees are eligible for a post-retirement death benefit depending on their retirement plan and tier. You can designate a beneficiary to receive this one-time, lump sum benefit after your death.
A beneficiary is often a spouse, a child or another relative, but it does not have to be a family member or even a person. You can designate a trust or organization to receive your ordinary death benefit.
Types of Beneficiaries
The booklet describes the two types of beneficiaries.
A primary beneficiary is the person who receives your death benefit. You can name more than one primary beneficiary. Each will share the benefit equally, unless you indicate specific percentages to be paid to each beneficiary.
A contingent beneficiary will receive your death benefit if all the primary beneficiaries die before you.
The booklet also has a section describing special beneficiary designations, which is helpful if you wish to name a minor child, a trust or an estate as a beneficiary
When to Designate a Beneficiary
You should review your beneficiary information periodically to make sure your beneficiary designations are up to date and reflect your current desires. Retirement Online provides convenient access to this information, which you can also find in your most recent Member Annual Statement.
If you get married, get a divorce or have a child, you may wish to change your beneficiary designation. Retirement Online is the convenient and secure way to update your beneficiaries. Sign in to your account, then click “View and Update My Beneficiaries.” You can also complete a Designation of Beneficiary form and mail it to NYSLRS.
You can change the beneficiary designation for your death benefit at any time. But remember, a beneficiary designation is a legal document, so you’ll want to avoid some common errors that could make your choices void. Fortunately, this booklet includes a list of guidelines that will help you avoid these pitfalls, and it is available online whenever you need to consult it.
Read our recent blog posts about other NYSLRS publications.