Retirement Savings Plan Beneficiary Designations

You may think you have enough life insurance and funds in your retirement savings account to provide for your loved ones in the event of your untimely death.  Now imagine your loved ones struggling to get by because they do not have access to the benefits you thought you were leaving them.  That’s not a pleasant thought, but there is a way to prevent it.  You need to designate beneficiaries, and keep them up-to-date.

A beneficiary is simply the person(s) (or organization) you want to receive the benefit in the event of your death.  It is very important to designate a beneficiary.  If you don’t have a designated beneficiary, the benefit could go to your estate, with the court making the determination of who receives the benefit.  This may not be what you would have preferred.

It is important to remember to review and update your designation(s) when you have any life changing event (e.g., marriage, divorce).  For example, if you get divorced, you may want your children to receive your retirement funds, not your former spouse.  If you don’t update your designation, then your children may not be entitled to those funds.

Fortunately, designating beneficiaries is easy and can be done at any time.  The following information provides instructions on how to designate beneficiaries at Fidelity and TIAA.

To designate a beneficiary at Fidelity:

Log in at  If you have not logged in before, you can set up a login by clicking on Register at the top of the page and follow the prompts.  Once logged in,

  1. Click on Menu in the top left corner,
  2. Click on Profile,
  3. Click on Beneficiaries (you can add and edit beneficiaries here),
  4. Save your changes.

If you click on Help in the top right corner of the Beneficiary screen, you will find helpful information about naming a beneficiary, including information about naming a minor or an organization.

If you have any questions about logging in, naming a beneficiary, or your account, contact Fidelity directly at (800) 343-0860/V and (800) 259-9734/TTY.

To designate a beneficiary at TIAA:

  1. Log in to your account at
  2. Confirm or update your beneficiaries and the percentage of your benefits you want each to have.
  3. Review and confirm your election.

You’ll receive a confirmation of your beneficiary election and you can change it at any time.  You can also change your beneficiaries with the help of a TIAA Financial Consultant.  Call (800) 842-2252, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (ET) and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET).