ContentPlan on spending more than you thinkContinually Revisit And Update Your Policy As NeededBUSINESSWhat Happens if You Die First, but then Your Beneficiary Dies Before the Death Benefit Is Paid?What happens if I don’t name a contingent beneficiary?Mistakes To Avoid With The Contingent Beneficiary The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from […]

The Difference Between Contingent and Primary Beneficiaries

The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. Investopedia does not include all offers available in the marketplace. This court system will then determine which of your heirs get what. Their decision may or may not be in line with your personal wishes. Dworken & Bernstein Co., L.P.A. is a full-service law firm that has represented businesses and individuals in Northeastern Ohio for more than 60 years. The information presented in this website should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

  • Group legal plans are administered by MetLife Legal Plans, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.
  • When choosing a beneficiary, you need to think about the people who depend on you financially.
  • Their shares do not have to be equal, as long as they add up to 100 percent.
  • Trusteehas a duty to fulfill its obligations to all the beneficiaries, including contingent beneficiaries who would receive the benefit if the current beneficiaries’ interests are terminated.
  • Note– The process for updating a primary or contingent beneficiary is usually simple.

The family erupts into so much chaos it makes The Jerry Springer Show seem like a kids’ program. You can’t help thinking, I’d never let that happen to my family. Contact your plan administrator if you want to make The Difference Between Contingent and Primary Beneficiaries changes to a 401 or another employer-sponsored retirement plan. Amilcar Chavarria is a fintech and blockchain entrepreneur with expertise in cryptocurrency, blockchain, fintech, investing, and personal finance.

Plan on spending more than you think

The persons you name must be legally able to accept the asset in the event of your death. Your retirement accounts will revert to your probate estate if you fail to name a contingent beneficiary and your primary beneficiary can’t or won’t accept the account. When considering who will inherit your assets, you might name your spouse as the primary beneficiary of 100% of an account. Your two adult children might receive 50% each as contingent beneficiaries if your spouse dies before you do.

  • SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you.
  • If you don’t want to leave your death benefit to family members or close friends who aren’t already your primary beneficiaries, you can select one or more organizations as your secondary beneficiaries.
  • The attorneys at Dworken & Bernstein are happy to answer all your estate planning inquiries.
  • 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.
  • “Accelerated death benefit” is a term you’ll encounter frequently in the life insurance buying process.

An individual can name multiple primary beneficiaries and stipulate how distributions would be allocated. A man passes away after accumulating $100,000 in a retirement account. He originally named his wife and brother as 50/50 primary beneficiaries but did not make any change to this designation after his brother passed away.

Continually Revisit And Update Your Policy As Needed

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel. Louis Wilson is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a wide array of publications, both online and in print. He often writes about travel, sports, popular culture, men’s fashion and grooming, and more.

You might also name your spouse as the primary beneficiary of 50% of the account, with your children each named as 25% primary beneficiaries. If the primary beneficiary dies, their potential share of the benefits will be paid to the named contingent beneficiaries. If there are no secondary beneficiaries, the death benefit would be passed to the policyholder’s estate. Here’s how the payout process would go for a policy with a contingent beneficiary versus one without. Contingent beneficiaries need to be reviewed and updated after major life changes, such as marriage, divorce, birth, or death.


Is a legal process where a deceased persons’ will is reviewed to determine its authenticity and validity. If the legal will is absent, then the assets get distributed according to the laws of intestacy. Insurance contracts, a contingent beneficiary is one who benefits when the prior beneficiary of the policy is unable to receive the benefit. As an alternate recipient of financial proceeds, a contingent beneficiary has the right to enforce the provisions included in the contract.

Below we cover some of the most common questions that are asked about primary and contingent beneficiaries. An immediate beneficiary or primary beneficiary is an individual or organization that receives immediate benefits from a trust’s assets. You can also name a charity or nonprofit organization as a primary or contingent beneficiary. This can be especially useful if the unthinkable happens, and all of your chosen beneficiaries are affected. Rather than losing your estate to the state, you can designate that your assets pass to an entity.

What Happens if You Die First, but then Your Beneficiary Dies Before the Death Benefit Is Paid?

The same would apply if your beneficiary were mentally incapacitated and unable to manage their own affairs. A third-party beneficiary is an individual who receives benefits from a contract between a promisor and a promisee. Is it time to update your Will to properly name contingent beneficiaries ? Trust & Will has streamlined the process so that you’re protected when you need it most. Naming the same person as both a primary and a contingent beneficiary is a common Estate Planning mistake.

The Difference Between Contingent and Primary Beneficiaries

The point is that you can divide your assets up any way you choose. Progressive Advantage Agency, Inc. refers consumers seeking life insurance to eFinancial, LLC for placement with insurers offering this coverage. EFinancial and the insurers are not affiliated with Progressive and are solely responsible for their websites, products, and services. Information about you is subject to their privacy policies and may be shared with PAA and its affiliates for their marketing and other uses.