Benefits

Beneficiary changes

It’s important to keep your beneficiary designations up to date because named beneficiaries on insurance policies and retirement plans usually supersede instructions in wills. By periodically reviewing your beneficiary designations for your UW benefit plans, personal insurance plans, and other financial accounts, you can rest assured that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes.

Change a beneficiary

Generally, you can review and update your beneficiary designations by contacting the company or organization that provides your insurance or retirement plan. You can sometimes do this online. Otherwise, you’ll have to complete, sign, and mail a paper form.

Life insurance

To update beneficiary designations for your Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) life insurance:

  1. Complete the Life Insurance - Beneficiary Designation Request (PDF)
  2. Submit the completed form to Benefits

Make sure to keep a copy of the form for your records. For more information about life insurance beneficiaries, refer to the beneficiary designation section of the PEBB Life Insurance Plan Booklet (PDF).

UW retirement plans

For the UW Retirement Plan (UWRP) and the Voluntary Investment Program (VIP), change your beneficiary information online by logging into your account with UW Fidelity Investments. (If you have annuities, log into your TIAA-CREF account.)

State retirement plans

For state Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) retirement plans, such as PERS, TRS, and LEOFF, update your beneficiary designation by:

  1. Completing the Retirement - PERS/ TERS/ LEOFF Beneficiary Designation (PDF) form
  2. Submitting the completed form to the address listed on the form

Make sure to keep a copy of the form for your records.

Deferred compensation program

If you participate in the Washington State Deferred Compensation Program (WSDCP), update your beneficiary designation by:

  1. Completing the Retirement - DCP Beneficiary Designation (PDF) form
  2. Submitting the completed form to the address listed on the form

Make sure to keep a copy of the form for your records.

Health savings account

For your health savings account (HSA), change your beneficiary information online by logging into HealthEquity account.

What is a beneficiary?

A beneficiary is a person or legal entity that is entitled to receive the proceeds from an estate, trust, retirement account, life insurance policy, or transfer on death accounts. A beneficiary can be one or more individuals or organizations, such as a trust or charity. You can designate two types of beneficiaries:

  • Primary beneficiaries are first in line to receive the designated asset upon your death
  • Secondary (or contingent) beneficiaries receive the asset if there are no surviving primary beneficiaries upon your death

When to review a beneficiary

Review and consider updating your beneficiaries when you:

  • Experience a major life event such as a birth, marriage, dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership, or death in the family
  • Update your will or estate plan
  • Rollover a 401(k) or Individual Retirement Account (IRA)
  • Receive a beneficiary verification notice

Keep copies of your beneficiary designation forms. If you do not have copies of your current beneficiary designations, request copies from your account providers or complete a new beneficiary designation form.

Seeking legal advice

Since the beneficiary designations you make can override your will, we recommend you consult with a legal advisor or an estate planning professional before you make changes.

When you designate a beneficiary, seek legal and tax advice if:

  • You wish to name someone other than your spouse or partner as a beneficiary
  • You have special estate planning needs
  • You want to assign ownership of your life insurance to another person
  • Your beneficiary is a minor who needs legal protection

When you create a will, consult with a legal advisor to make sure that you understand whether the beneficiary designations you make on insurance plans or financial accounts are affected by your will.

You can schedule a free, confidential 30-minute phone consultation with an attorney through UW CareLink.