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Beneficiary Designation

Add or Update Beneficiaries:

To add or update your beneficiaries, access your account online. You can also print and mail beneficiary designation forms for your pension account and 457 plan account.

Pension
Account Login

If you are a new employee, watch for your online pension account activation email around the end of your first month of employment. Follow the instructions in the email to register your online account.

Existing employees are also encouraged to register their online pension account to keep beneficiary information up to date and access additional account information.

457 Plan
Account Login

New State employees who are automatically enrolled should watch for their automatic enrollment notice as well as a separate mailing which provides a PIN/PASSCODE to access your online account. You should immediately access your account and designate beneficiaries.

New Non-State employees should designate beneficiary information on paper enrollment forms.

Existing WRS 457 Plan participants are encouraged to access their online account, where beneficiary information can be verified and updated, and where participants can also will find a number of retirement planning resources.

A beneficiary can be one person, several people, a trust, or an organization selected to receive eligible plan assets in the event of your death. 

Beneficiary designations for your WRS Pension Plan and WRS 457 Plan are made separately for each plan. Life situations such as marriage, the birth or adoption of a child, divorce or the death of a loved one can be cause for reviewing beneficiary designations. Not having a beneficiary on file could be a disadvantage to your family and loved ones.

 

Pension Account Beneficiary Considerations:

Pre-retirees should consider an important distinction between designating a sole beneficiary and multiple beneficiaries for the WRS Defined Benefit/Pension Plan. 

  • Sole eligible primary beneficiaries have the choice to receive a monthly retirement benefit based on the deceased member’s length of service and salary.
  • Multiple primary beneficiaries must receive a lump sum payment. The payment will be made to each of the multi-beneficiaries in equal shares unless otherwise specified in writing.
  • Estate, trust, charity, or other organization named as your beneficiary must receive a lump sum payment.
  • Contingent Beneficiaries will receive a benefit only if there is no surviving primary beneficiary.

Some plans require the member’s spouse to be the primary beneficiary if the member is married. See your pension plan handbook for more details on designating beneficiaries.

When a member retires, the beneficiary designation is handled differently. The option selected by the member when beginning to draw a monthly retirement benefit will determine how the account is paid out upon death of the member.

 

457 Deferred Compensation Plan Beneficiary Considerations:

Single or Multiple beneficiaries can be designated on a 457 Plan. Each beneficiary may claim funds in the event of the member’s death, independent of other named beneficiaries on the account.  

Spousal beneficiaries have the broadest set of distribution options and in most cases have the same distribution options as the spousal decedent. 

Non-Spousal beneficiaries are required to establish a payment method not to exceed their life expectancy by end of the year following the calendar year of death. If a payment method is not put in place by that time, all funds must be distributed by the end of the fifth calendar year following the death.

Estate, trust, charity, or other organizations named as your beneficiary must receive a lump sum payment no later than the end of the fifth calendar year following death.

In all cases, the beneficiary, whether spousal or non-spousal, cannot reduce a payment previously established by the decedent.

 

This information should not be interpreted as legal advice. WRS encourages you to seek professional consultation regarding estate planning.