January 31, 2019

Updating Your Beneficiaries: Why It Matters

By Crista Murray, Alliance Benefits

Do you know who your beneficiaries are? With Alliance Benefits, this would include any life insurance, health savings account (HSA), or 403(b) retirement account you are currently enrolled in.

For many people, naming beneficiaries happens when first setting up the account or policy. However, when life changes occur (birth, marriage, death, etc.), you may find that your designated beneficiaries are not who you thought or intended them to be.

Why is it important to update your information?

Did you know that a designated beneficiary form will take precedence over any other form of legal documentation? This includes decrees, wills, trusts, and any other formal legal document. It does not matter which document is more recent; the beneficiary form will always hold authority over any records.

If there are no active beneficiaries on file, your assets may be transferred to your estate and the state law then determines who receives the money. In other cases, the presumption is that the heirs named in your will should receive the proceeds, but this could be challenged as beneficiary designations may supersede your will.

How frequently should beneficiaries be updated?

It is important to review your beneficiaries periodically, especially if there have been any changes since you first established your account or policy. This also applies if you previously named a charity or trust as your beneficiary and it no longer exists. A great time to review your information is annually such as when you file your taxes.

If beneficiaries are not regularly updated, accounts could end up in the wrong hands, leaving the unspecified intended beneficiary with little legal recourse. An example would be if children are named as beneficiaries, but legal documents are never updated to include those who were born after the initial designation.

How do I access my beneficiary information?

For accounts or policies that you have with Alliance Benefits, here are some simple instructions on how to designate, view or update your beneficiary information:

403(b) Alliance Retirement Account – Empower Retirement’s web site (click here) → Sign in → Go to My Accounts → Click on Beneficiaries

Alliance Health Plan – Health Savings Account (HSA) – BenefitWallet’s web site (click here) → Sign in → Go to Resource Center → Click on Beneficiaries

Alliance Health Plan – Basic and Voluntary Life Insurance – Alliance Benefits Change Form (click here) → Complete the Life Insurance Beneficiary Designee Change section → Sign and submit


Crista Murray joined Alliance Benefits in June 2009 and has been with The Christian and Missionary Alliance for over seventeen years serving in various roles. She is responsible for overseeing and coordinating the day-to-day execution of marketing strategies and communication efforts for both the health and retirement plans.

Posted in: 403(b) Plan Tools, Health Plan Tools