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Naming a Beneficiary

Naming a beneficiary for your TCDRS account is one of the most important things you can do for your loved ones. It could save them from having to make difficult decisions.

When you name a beneficiary, you guarantee that TCDRS will distribute your money the way you wish. If you haven't designated a beneficiary, we'll pay your benefit to your spouse or to your estate (if you are not married).

It's a good idea to review your beneficiaries every year or after a life-changing event, such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child or a death in the family. As a member, you may change your beneficiary at any time. Checking and updating your beneficiaries can help make sure that your benefit payment doesn't get delayed. It can also help make the process much easier for your loved ones.

To view your beneficiaries, simply sign in or register for online account access.

What Your Beneficiary Gets

If you pass away before you retire, TCDRS will pay your money -- deposits plus interest -- to your beneficiary. If you have four or more years of TCDRS service, your beneficiary has the option of receiving a lifetime monthly payment from your account. Called the Survivor Benefit, this payment includes employer matching.

How to Designate Your Beneficiaries

You may name as many beneficiaries as you wish. To designate your beneficiaries, sign in online or fill out a Beneficiary Designation (TCDRS-06) form and return it to TCDRS.

If you're eligible for the Survivor Benefit, you may specify that your beneficiary choose a lifetime benefit that includes employer matching. By specifying a lifetime benefit, you remove the single-payment withdrawal option, which does not include employer matching.

Types of Beneficiaries

There are two types of beneficiaries: primary and alternate.

Primary Beneficiaries: These are the people (or entities) who will receive your benefit. You can name more than one primary beneficiary. TCDRS will split your benefit equally among your primary beneficiaries, unless you specify how you'd like your benefit to be divided.

Alternate Beneficiaries: These people or entities receive a benefit only if none of your primary beneficiaries are eligible. (For example, if all of your primary beneficiaries have passed away, TCDRS would pay your benefit to your alternate beneficiaries.)

Things to Consider

When you choose a beneficiary, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my spouse or anyone else dependent on me for income or financial support?
  • Do I want to provide for more than one person when I pass away?
  • Do I need to provide for a minor child?

Who you choose to receive your benefit can also mean you have to take a few extra steps to make sure your beneficiary is valid.

  • Spouses

    Your husband or wife may have a right to the retirement benefit you earn while you're married. If you're married and wish to designate someone other than your spouse as your primary beneficiary, you may want to consider contacting an attorney to learn your options.
  • Divorce

    If you get a divorce and your spouse is your beneficiary, he or she will lose the designation as your primary beneficiary. If you still want your ex-spouse to be your beneficiary, you'll need to complete a new designation form that shows your ex's non-spouse status. Keep in mind that your ex may still have some rights to your TCDRS benefits, depending on your divorce decree. Please call TCDRS Member Services at 800-823-7782 to discuss how a divorce can affect your benefits.
  • Minor Children

    You can name a minor child as a beneficiary, but TCDRS cannot pay a benefit directly to that child until he or she turns 18. You may either designate a custodian or a trustee to ensure a minor child receives the benefit you wish. If you don't name a custodian or trustee, TCDRS will make benefit payments to the child's parent or legal guardian.
  • Estate

    When you name your estate as your beneficiary, your Will determines who gets your estate (or parts of it). Before TCDRS can make payments to your estate, we'll need an Estate Tax Identification Number, as well as Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration. (Estate Tax Identification Numbers are obtained by calling the Internal Revenue Service at 800-829-4933. Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration are documents obtained from a court that appoints an executor or administrator for the estate.)


    TCDRS will make a single payment of your account balance including employer matching (if you're eligible) to your estate. Choosing your estate may not be a good choice if you want to provide someone with a lifetime monthly benefit.

  • Trust

    Before you name a trust as your beneficiary, set up a legal trust agreement. To name a trust as a beneficiary, please write Trustee of (name of trust) as a primary or alternate beneficiary on your beneficiary designation.
  • Charitable Gift

    You may name a nonprofit organization or charity as your beneficiary and TCDRS may make a single payment, including employer matching (if you're eligible) to that entity. Simply write the name of the charity as either your primary or alternate beneficiary on the designation form.

To change your beneficiary

As a TCDRS member, you may change your beneficiary at any time by signing in online or sending in a new Beneficiary Designation (TCDRS-06) form. For help naming or reviewing your beneficiaries, please call Member Services at 800-823-7782.