When you joined NYSLRS, you may have named one or more beneficiaries to receive certain benefits if you die.
NYSLRS retirement plans provide death benefits for beneficiaries of eligible members who die before retiring. The “ordinary death benefit” is paid to the beneficiary or beneficiaries that you designated, so it’s important to review periodically to make sure your choices reflect your current wishes. For example, if you just married, you may want to update your NYSLRS account information to name your new spouse as your beneficiary.
Types of Beneficiaries
There are two types of beneficiaries — primary and contingent beneficiaries:
- Your primary beneficiary will receive any payable ordinary death benefit. You can list more than one primary beneficiary. If you do, they would share the benefit equally. Or, you can choose different percentages for each beneficiary that total 100 percent. (Example: John Doe, 50 percent; Jane Doe, 25 percent; and Mary Doe, 25 percent.)
- A contingent beneficiary will only receive the benefit if all your primary beneficiaries die before you do. If you list multiple contingent beneficiaries, they will share the benefit equally unless you choose different percentages.
Special Beneficiary Designations
Your beneficiary doesn’t have to be a person. You can name a charity, a trust or your estate as your beneficiary.
When you die, your estate is the money and property you owned. Your death benefit will be given to the executor of your estate to be distributed according to the terms of your will. You can name your estate as the primary or contingent beneficiary of your death benefit. If you name your estate as the primary beneficiary, do not name a contingent beneficiary.
You can name a trust as a primary or contingent beneficiary if you have a trust agreement or provided for a trust in your will. The trust itself would be your NYSLRS beneficiary, not the individuals for whom you established the trust. (You may want to speak with your attorney if you’re thinking about making your trust a beneficiary.)
You can also name any charitable, civic, religious, educational or health-related organization as a beneficiary.
If your beneficiary is a minor child (under age 18) at the time of your death, your benefit will be paid to the child’s court-appointed guardian. You may instead choose a custodian to receive the benefit on the child’s behalf under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA). Custodians can be designated in Retirement Online or you can contact us for more information and the appropriate form before making this type of designation.
Updating Your Beneficiaries
You can change your beneficiaries at any time. You should also review your named beneficiaries to make sure their contact information is up to date.
- The fastest way to view or update your beneficiaries is in Retirement Online. You can add beneficiaries, update beneficiary information or remove beneficiaries. Sign in, then click “Manage My Beneficiaries” on the right, under “I want to ….”
- You can also complete and mail us a Designation of Beneficiary form (RS5127). Read the instructions on the form before entering your preferences. Be sure to include all your beneficiaries on the form. Your new beneficiary designations will replace all your previously named beneficiaries. Though your designations will need to be reviewed and approved, your updated beneficiary information becomes effective when we receive your properly completed, signed and notarized form.
You can read more about beneficiary designations in our Life Changes: Why Should I Designate a Beneficiary? publication. If you have questions, please contact us.
If you are retired, you may wish to read our blog post Can You Change Your Beneficiary After You Retire?