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.
Full Name of each party
Mailing or Residential Address(es)
Phone Number(s) and/or Email Address(es)
Before you complete the agreement, you and your beneficiary must agree on which rights and protections you will grant to each other.
Real and personal property
Recognition as a beneficiary and dependent in a retirement or pension plan
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
Suing for wrongful death
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
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