Contingent Beneficiary Do You Need More Than One Beneficiary?

The Difference Between Contingent and Primary Beneficiaries

Contingent beneficiaries are second in line to inherit your assets. Also known as secondary beneficiaries, contingent beneficiaries are often children, other family members, or philanthropic organizations. You can name multiple contingent beneficiaries and divide your estate among them. Your primary beneficiary is the person or entity that first receives the proceeds of your account upon your death. The contingent beneficiary is your second choice to receive the benefit, only if the primary beneficiary dies before you. In that case, their bank account money is passed on to the named beneficiaries or POD for the account. If there are no named beneficiaries or POD, the state executor claims responsibility for handling the assets owned by the deceased, which also includes the money in their bank accounts.

How to choose a life insurance beneficiary – CBS News

How to choose a life insurance beneficiary.

Posted: Thu, 06 Oct 2022 07:00:00 GMT [source]

Scammers impersonate a trusted company to convince their targets into revealing or handing over sensitive information such as insurance, banking or login credentials. This scamming can happen via text, email or websites set up to look like the trusted company. Policy Advice is a website devoted to helping everyday people make, save, and grow money. While our team is comprised of personal finance pros with various areas of expertise, nothing can replace professional financial, tax, or legal advice. In this case, your life insurance benefit will go to the estate of your beneficiary instead of your estate. It will be handled according to your beneficiary’s will or dealt with by the state. However, power of attorney can’t do anything when the policy includes irrevocable beneficiaries.

Your contingent beneficiary is a minor.

There is no definitive rule on how many beneficiaries you should have, although some policies or accounts may limit you to a maximum number . You definitely want to name a primary beneficiary, and you should have at least one, but ideally more than one, contingent beneficiary. If possible, it’s a good idea to discuss your wishes with your beneficiaries in advance.

The Difference Between Contingent and Primary Beneficiaries

Or, say your primary beneficiary dies before you do, and there are no contingent beneficiaries. “Accelerated death benefit” is a term you’ll encounter frequently in the life insurance buying process. Typically, you can have as many contingent beneficiaries as you want, as long as their portions of the estate add up to 100%. You could split your estate evenly between two children, designate 60% of your estate to your child and 40% to another relative, or divide your assets between several philanthropic organizations. If policy providers cannot find an heir, then the state gets to claim ownership of these assets.

Your contingent beneficiary doesn’t know about your policy.

After major life events, such as marriage, divorce, or the death of a loved one, check your policy to see if you want to make changes. By reviewing your beneficiaries regularly, you can help ensure a smooth payout process after your passing.

For instance, a trust can provide instructions for when funds will be provided to your minor children when they reach specific ages or milestones. Millions of dollars of life insurance proceeds go unclaimed every year. However, use care when listing the different parties to your life insurance contract. Life insurance proceeds are typically not subject to creditors. In other words, your death benefit is almost always immune to credit card companies and other entities in which money is owed. I was putting off purchasing life insurance as all I wanted was a term policy and was dreading the thought of having to meet or speak to a broker and deal with the dreaded upsell tactics.


In the event a minor is listed on the contract, a legal guardian should be appointed to oversee the assets until the minor reaches legal age. A primary beneficiary is a person or entity that is first in line to receive a distribution from a will or trust. A primary beneficiary is a person or entity named to receive the benefit of a will, trust, insurance policy, or investment account. It’s important to note that the only way a contingent beneficiary inherits anything is if the primary beneficiary is unavailable or unwilling to inherit the account. If you want to ensure that someone inherits a portion of your assets, naming them as a contingent or secondary beneficiary is not sufficient. There’s no doubt, designating beneficiaries is a critical part of estate planning. Still, it can be overwhelming to make sense of how to divide your assets for your loved ones.

  • This scamming can happen via text, email or websites set up to look like the trusted company.
  • At Haven Life, we frequently see individuals name their significant other as the primary beneficiary, but your situation may be different.
  • Scammers impersonate a trusted company to convince their targets into revealing or handing over sensitive information such as insurance, banking or login credentials.
  • Only the owner of the life insurance policy is allowed to change the name and designation of beneficiaries.

Only then will the death benefit pass to the person or organization you named in your estate plan. Naming beneficiaries is one of the most important steps in buying a life insurance policy, opening a financial account, or completing your estate planning checklist. Beneficiaries inherit the assets from your estate following your death.

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The executor’s main duty is to carry out the instructions and wishes of the deceased. Another thing to note is, due to the passage of the SECURE Act in 2019, non-spousal beneficiaries must withdraw 100% of the IRA funds by the end of the 10th year following the IRA owner’s death.

The Difference Between Contingent and Primary Beneficiaries

If a person or third party who controls the account refuses to implement the agreement, then a lawsuit may be filed by the concerned parties. You can name more than one primary beneficiary and more than one contingent beneficiary—you’re not limited to one of each. You can set percentages for each, citing what portion of the account they should receive.

How a Contingent Beneficiary Assignment Works

Failure to name or elect any beneficiaries will cause all assets or wealth left by the deceased to go to his estate, which may severely limit the potential benefits that the heirs may receive. Naming minor children as beneficiaries, even contingent ones, may require you to select a custodian to manage the payout funds until the children come of age. Consult with a lawyer or financial advisor to determine the best options for your family before you name a child beneficiary. For example, suppose a will leaves an entire estate to the deceased’s spouse.

So, if there is no contingent beneficiary in place, your life insurance proceeds may be at risk. When you designate your loved ones as either a primary or contingent beneficiary, your life insurance financially safeguards them regardless of what life brings. With all that in mind, here’s what to consider, and what you need to know, when choosing who to name as your primary beneficiary on your life insurance policy. The right financial advisor can help you both create and manage your personalized estate plan. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard.

What Is a Beneficiary?

Say you and your primary beneficiary pass away in a car accident, and you do not have a contingent beneficiary listed on your life insurance policy. To make changes to your beneficiaries, you need to contact your insurance providers and request a change beneficiary form.

  • In that case, their bank account money is passed on to the named beneficiaries or POD for the account.
  • Ever wonder what is a contingent beneficiary and whether or not you need one?
  • Amilcar Chavarria is a fintech and blockchain entrepreneur with expertise in cryptocurrency, blockchain, fintech, investing, and personal finance.
  • Trust & Will has streamlined the process so that you’re protected when you need it most.
  • A portion of your estate may still go before the probate courts, depending on your asset structure.
  • Can other parties be insured under a policy even though they are not specifically named?

Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. PAA and Progressive are not responsible for insurer or coverage selections, policies issued, claims, the content or operation of others’ websites, or how others handle or use your information. Information you provide to others is subject to their privacy policies and website terms of use, and may be shared with us. There are no laws that require you to hire a lawyer if you want to contest a will or trust. However, working with an experienced probate litigation attorney will vastly increase your chance of success. A successor trustee is the individual or entity that administers a trust after the original trustee passes away or becomes unable or unwilling to perform their duties. An executor is an individual appointed to administrate the estate of a deceased person.

Overall, this is why it’s important to not only name a primary beneficiary and contingent beneficiary, but to also review and update the beneficiary and his or her contact information periodically. You can also establish criteria around your contingent The Difference Between Contingent and Primary Beneficiaries beneficiary’s inheritance. For example, you could name your child as the secondary beneficiary of your life insurance payout — but only after they finish college. Generally, you can name any person or organization as your contingent beneficiary.

The former editor of Consumer Reports, she is an expert in credit and debt, retirement planning, home ownership, employment issues, and insurance. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College (A.B., history) and has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Bennington College. If you ever need to remove or change your primary or contingent beneficiaries, you can do so by contacting your carrier. Contact us if you need help purchasing a life insurance policy. By drafting a living trust, designating beneficiaries, and holding property jointly, you may be able to avoid probate.

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