Surprising beneficiary designation

October 08, 2015

Check out our series of surprising beneficiary designations, based on the types of circumstances we see that could leave family and friends stunned. To protect members' and their loved ones' privacy we do not use their real names.

Designating a beneficiary is not a set-it-and-forget-it task.

As years go by your relationships will change. By regularly reviewing your beneficiary designation you can ensure that should something happen to you, your Teachers' survivor benefit (which could be worth close to $1 million as you near retirement) goes to who you want.

Cleaning house

When Luca passed away he did not have a wife or children. He specified a charity in his will that he wanted his entire estate to go to.  But he did not specify his Teachers' survivor benefit.

When his executor called to notify us of his death, we discovered a beneficiary designation form Luca had signed nearly 30 years ago. In it, Luca named his house keeper. Because he was not explicit in his will about his Teachers' benefit, we had to rely on this designation form, even though it pre-dated his will by decades.

When we tracked down the house keeper, she had not been in touch for more than a decade and had no idea that Luca had even passed away. Because Luca did not specify his Teachers' survivor benefit in his will or update his beneficiary designation, a person he did not have a relationship with at the time of his death received his survivor benefit, worth about $800,000. 

Sign into your Teachers' account to review your beneficiary designation.