Naming a Beneficiary of Life Insurance and Retirement Policies- Who, What, and Why?

A “beneficiary” is a person or legal entity you have
chosen to receive the value of an estate, trust,
retirement plans, or insurance policies. 

There are two basic types of beneficiaries.
The first is a primary beneficiary. A primary beneficiary
is the first person or entity to receive proceeds from an estate.
If there is more than one person or entity listed as a primary beneficiary
the profits will be divided equally or according to the percentages
you selected. The second type of beneficiary is a contingent beneficiary.
If there were no living primary beneficiaries, a contingent or secondary
beneficiary would then receive the remaining assets of an estate.
If there are no contingent beneficiaries, be sure to ask how the funds 

will be distributed. In the case of an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement accounts,
having them default to a will or estate might be desirable. So spend 

some time thinking about your beneficiaries and consider
the following information.

 Before designating a beneficiary it is important to know who can be named.
Some examples of who can be designated as a beneficiary are,
spouses, parents, children (who are over the age of 18), trusts,
estates, friends, charities, organizations, churches, or even universities.
When you do name a beneficiary be specific as possible to try and
eliminate any question regarding the identity of a particular beneficiary. 

 Once beneficiaries of your insurance and other accounts have
been designated, it is important to keep the designations up to date.
If there are changes to estate planning documents, retirement plans,
or insurance policies beneficiary changes might also be necessary.
This typically happens when major life changes happen such as marriage,
divorce, death, retirement, major financial changes, and/or changes
in estate tax or laws.

It is therefore important to review these designations
AND how they work with your will, trust, and estate planning
documents on a regular basis.

For more information regarding designating and updating beneficiaries,
and estate planning. Please contact David M. Frees, III at
[email protected] or call 888-573-7407.


David M. Frees, III
Attorney, Speaker and Author