Beneficiaries, explained.

What you need to know about choosing the person(s) who will receive the payout if you pass away.

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What’s a beneficiary?
The beneficiary of your life insurance policy is the person who will receive the payout in the event of your death. You can have one or multiple beneficiaries named on your policy.

If you decide to have more than one beneficiary, you will allocate a percentage of the death benefit for each, so that the total allocation equals 100%. A simple example of this would be allocating 50% to your partner, and 25% to each of your two children, for a total of 100%. When your death benefit is paid, your beneficiaries will receive the percentage based on your allocations.

Alternatively, you can choose a primary and contingent beneficiary. Your primary beneficiary will receive the death benefit if they are still living at the time of your death. Otherwise, the death benefit will be paid to your contingent beneficiaries. For example, you have named your partner as your primary beneficiary with 100% allocation, and your two children are named as your contingent beneficiaries, each with a 50% allocation. If your partner passes away before you do, then your children will receive the death benefit. It’s a good idea to name a contingent beneficiary, since it’s possible that your primary beneficiary could pass away before you do.

How to choose a beneficiary

When naming a beneficiary, there must be an insurable interest present, which means that with whoever you select relies on you for some kind of financial support. Many people choose their partner as their beneficiary, but you can also name a parent, sibling, child, or close friend—anyone you would want to provide financial support for in the event of your death.

If you’re naming a minor as a beneficiary (like your child), consider the fact that many insurance companies do not pay benefits to someone under the age of 18. In that case, you can name a person close to them, like a grandparent as beneficiary, or establish a trust for the minor to help guarantee they will receive the payout.

Review your beneficiaries regularly

Because things can change over time, review your beneficiary designations every few years and make any necessary updates. If you need to make any changes to your beneficiary designation, reach out to our team and we’ll help you make those updates. And always, make sure your beneficiaries have the necessary policy documents and company information.

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Who has the right to change the beneficiary designation?

The policyholder typically has the right to change the beneficiary designation at any time. Life insurance companies allow policyholders the flexibility to update their beneficiaries based on changes in relationships, family dynamics, or estate planning needs.

Which beneficiary designation cannot be changed?

Irrevocable beneficiaries have a designation that cannot be changed without their explicit consent. This type of designation is less common and requires careful consideration, as it limits the policyholder's flexibility in making future changes.

How do beneficiary designations work?

Beneficiary designations specify who will receive the death benefit when the policyholder passes away. They bypass probate, ensuring a quicker and more straightforward transfer of funds directly to the designated individuals.

What are the rules for beneficiaries of life insurance?

Beneficiaries must be clearly identified, and their relationship to the policyholder should be specified. In some cases, contingent beneficiaries are named to receive the benefit if the primary beneficiary is unable to.