Designated Beneficiary Agreement

Two unmarried individuals who do not have other estate planning tools in place, such as a will or power of attorney, can mutually sign a Designated Beneficiary Agreement to establish certain rights and protections between each other (regardless of gender, age, etc). These protections can include rights of property, survivorship, beneficiaries of insurance, retirement plans, conservatorships, visitation, health care proxy and inheritance. In order to be valid, the individuals must give informed consent, not be married to any other person and not have another beneficiary agreement in place. In addition the form must be notarized and filed with the county clerk and recorder. The agreement terminates upon marriage of either party or by revocation by filed form.

You may choose to complete a custom agreement or use a form template, available below or from many county clerk and recorder's offices.


Information Needed

Before you start completing a Designated Beneficiary Agreement, ensure you have the following information available.

Parties' Identification

Full Name of each party

Mailing or Residential Address(es)

Phone Number(s) and/or Email Address(es)

Best Practices

To make sure that you get the most benefit from a designated beneficiary agreement, follow these tips from our experts.

Before you complete the agreement, you and your beneficiary must agree on which rights and protections you will grant to each other.

It is presumed that you grant all of the rights and protections below to the other party unless you or the other party withholds specific rights or protections by initialing in the appropriate spaces on the form. You may not add additional rights other than these to the agreement.

Real and personal property


Recognition as a beneficiary and dependent in a retirement or pension plan

Health insurance

Life insurance

Petitions for priority of appointment as a conservator, guardian, or personal representative

Visitation rights in health care facilities

Filing complaints on behalf of a nursing home patient

Acting as a proxy decision-maker for medical and surgical treatment

Receiving notice of withholding/ withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures

Challenge the validity of a declaration as to medical or surgical treatment

Inheritance issues

Workers’ compensation

Suing for wrongful death

Anatomical gifts

Disposition of last remains

Get the agreement notarized by a notary public. Usually your bank will offer free notary services.

You must sign the agreement in front of the notary public. Do not sign the agreement until you are in the notary's presence.

File the signed and notarized agreement with the clerk and recorder in the county at least one party resides in.

The designated beneficiary agreement does not take effect until it is filed with a county clerk and recorder's office. There may be a fee for recording the agreement.


Who to Notify

To ensure that your wishes are followed and the designated beneficiary agreement is acknowledged, make sure you give copies to the following individuals and groups. A designated beneficiary agreement does not override separately named beneficiaries (such as for life insurance), which may also need to be updated.

Give Copies of Agreement to:

Employer and/or Retirement Provider

Life and health insurance provider(s)

Other benefit provider(s)

Estate planner(s) and other legal service providers

Any inpatient medical facility to which either party may be admitted

Download a Designated Beneficiary Agreement

Download Beneficiary Agreement

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