We can answer a question that you may have:

Why have life insurance?

Life insurance should give you and your loved ones peace of mind that they will have funds available if anything happens to you.

But we can’t answer this one:

If you have life insurance, have you reviewed your beneficiary designation form lately? 

That one is up to you, but we can tell you that if your beneficiary isn’t updated, your loved ones may not have the peace of mind you intended.

If you’ve had a recent life event such as a change in marital status, the addition of a child, or the death of a loved one, then now is a good time to review your beneficiary designation for Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI), Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI) and VA Insurance policies with policy numbers starting with V, RH, RS, J, K or W. It’s the best way to ensure your life insurance benefit is paid to the people you want.

Not keeping beneficiaries up to date may result in your benefits going to a former spouse or a deceased parent’s estate.  It could also result in payment delays at a time when your loved one needs the money.  For example, if the listed beneficiaries are children from a first marriage, then children from a current marriage might contest the claim if they believe they have more recent documents showing they should be the beneficiaries.  No one could be paid until it is determined who legally is entitled to the money.

Even if you haven’t had a recent life event, it’s a good idea to review your beneficiaries at least once a year around tax time, or another memorable date. So, mark it on your calendar as an annual event. And remember, you have the legal right to name any beneficiary you want and change your beneficiary at any time. You can also update your SGLI or VGLI policy at any time within eBenefits, the joint VA/DoD online benefits portal.

You can access all Change of Beneficiary forms here.  Here’s how:

If you have Download
A VA policy starting with V, RH, RS, J, K or W Form 29-336
SGLI Coverage Form SGLV 8286
VGLI Coverage Form SGLV 8721, or log onto your VGLI Online Account.

Dave Roesner is the chief of VA’s insurance claims division.

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Published on May. 7, 2013

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