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Frequently Asked Questions Benefits for LGBT Federal Employees and Annuitants

In regards to designation, an employee can designate a trust, true? Also it is true that nothing, including a will, can trump a designation?

For Federal Employee Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) life insurance, you can designate a trust. Instructions are available on the designation form and in the FEGLI handbook at

By law, FEGLI benefits are paid according to the most recent valid designation on file with your employing agency, or if there’s no valid designation, then according to the order of precedence provided by law. A will cannot supersede your designation or even the order of precedence, so it’s important to make sure your designation is up to date. 

A designation of beneficiary does “trump” a will for purposes of paying the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) lump-sum death benefit. OPM pays the lump-sum death benefit, first, according to the designation, but, if none, in accordance with the order of precedence under 5 U.S.C. 8342(c) for CSRS and 5 USC 8424(d) for FERS to determine eligibility for this benefit. The designee on the designation of beneficiary form is the first potential recipient under the order of precedence, and therefore, receives priority over all other potential recipients. 

For CSRS or FERS, you can designate a testamentary trust for the lump sum payable at death. A testamentary trust is a trust that is set up when you die, according to terms in your will. Use SF 3102 if you are under the FERS system or SF 2808 if you are under the CSRS system. Information about designating a trust can be found in chapter 34 of the CSRS and FERS Handbook. Be aware that the lump sum benefit is different than the monthly survivor benefit payable to a legal spouse or other eligible beneficiaries. 

The experts at the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board provided this answer in reference to TSP benefits: “It is correct that in regards to TSP designation, an employee can designate a trust. It is also true that nothing, including a will, can trump a TSP designation.”

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