Add a beneficiary to your DNA test and stop wondering, “What happens to my DNA test results when I die?” Here’s a quick video tutorial on how to assign a beneficiary for an FTDNA kit and tips for helping ensure your AncestryDNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage or Living DNA test results will get passed along.
Recently we shared Pamela’s story about finding her great grandfather. Key to solving her DNA mystery was access to her uncle’s DNA test. Her uncle had just passed away, so it’s a good thing she was assigned as the beneficiary of his FTDNA test results! She told us that working with his results actually helped her continue to feel close to him during the process.
Add beneficiary to your DNA test
So, if you’ve taken a DNA test, how can you ensure that your DNA test results will pass into the right hands after you die? And what about your relatives’ tests that you hope to have access to if they die?
Of all the DNA testing companies, only Family Tree DNA (FTDNA)* currently allows you to name a beneficiary for your DNA test. This makes the handoff process SO much easier! This video tutorial shows you how to do this. Below, find tips for those who test at other companies—or who are trying to obtain access to DNA test kits for deceased relatives—at other testing companies.
How to add a beneficiary at FTDNA
We recommend that everyone adds a beneficiary to their FTDNA account. If you’ve inherited an FTDNA account from a deceased relative, you should update the email associated with the account to your own email in case you need to access the email account associated with the FTDNA account to log in or reset a password.
Use a DNA test beneficiary form
If you’ve tested with other DNA testing companies, you don’t currently have the option of adding a formal beneficiary. So how else can you hand it off? Or how can you put in place directives to become the beneficiary of someone else’s DNA test? We’re not lawyers—we’re DNA educators—so don’t take the following as legal advice. And know that what you can and should do may depend on the laws where you live and the testing company.
Blaine Bettinger, a fellow DNA expert who IS an attorney, was nice enough to develop a sample beneficiary agreement you can fill out and keep with your estate planning documents. Click here to access this DNA beneficiary agreement. If a relative has taken a DNA test and you’d like to become the beneficiary of that test, consider approaching that person with this form in hand. If you pay for others to test, ask them to name you as a beneficiary, too. Even if the person prefers to name someone else as beneficiary, at least you’ve helped make that happen, and down the road, you’d know whom to approach with questions about that person’s DNA test.
Assigning your AncestryDNA or 23andMe Results
Some people prefer a less secure but easier option: add your preferred beneficiary as a collaborator on your DNA test results now. Here’s how to give someone access to your AncestryDNA* test and what the different levels of access mean. Granting the most possible access now, such as a manager on an AncestryDNA account, means you’re granting that person the ability to make changes, while you’re still living. This could cause problems. Of course, the powers of collaborators are limited, which in turn will lead to limited power for this kind of “beneficiary” in the future.
If you and your relatives test with 23andMe, you might consider their shared account option. This is for those relatives who want to share access to all their genetic data with each other.
Accessing a Deceased Relative’s DNA at MyHeritage
MyHeritage doesn’t currently offer ways for people to assign beneficiaries to DNA test kits. However, they do have procedures in place for people to claim access to family websites created by deceased relatives. According to our contact at MyHeritage, claiming the sites of deceased relatives includes access to all the information available on the website—including DNA test results linked to them. Here’s how to take over the MyHeritage account of a deceased relative.
Let us teach you more about your DNA testing site
Our quick guides teach you everything you need to know (and nothing more) about navigating your testing site and understanding your DNA results. We offer quick guides for AncestryDNA, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA (Family Finder), and MyHeritage. Give them a try!