What Is a Contingent Beneficiary


A beneficiary is a person you choose to receive assets from your estate in the event that you pass away.

For any single item or piece of property you may hold, you can choose a beneficiary. When your principal beneficiary is unable to receive assets or benefits, unconfirmed beneficiaries may.

You can designate beneficiaries for assets like life insurance policies and 401(k) accounts that can avoid probate without affecting your primary beneficiary.

Only if your primary beneficiary does not pass away prior to you will your contingent beneficiary be entitled to a piece of your wealth.

Choosing Contingent Beneficiaries Has Advantages

When there is no valid basis to choose a beneficiary for a life insurance policy or retirement account, probate is the legal procedure for distributing the assets of a live individual.

For instance, Uni designates Alex, the father of the child, as the primary beneficiary of their life insurance. Despite Alex dying before enrolling in university, the children cannot contest their inheritance because a benevolent organisation has already been established.

Also, non-permanent beneficiaries must take 100% of the IRA fund out by the end of the tenth year following the decedent’s passing as of the SECURE Act 2019, which was passed in 2019.

When the kids graduate from school, they will receive the money.

What justifies naming a contingent beneficiary?

In some circumstances, your trust’s primary beneficiary will no longer be able to inherit your property directly or indirectly.

In the absence of a beneficiary designation, state law governs who and how your money was distributed. In other circumstances, your money would come in the form of an estate payment for someone who passed away so name them the principal beneficiary.

The proceeds of your insurance plan are given to your preferred charity of choice, which is also named as a contingent beneficiary of your policy, if your spouse passes away before you or died before you.

States apply regulations that would limit how they are utilised, but any court decides what money is best to recover.

Primary and contingent beneficiaries

First beneficiaries are the people or entities who, if all goes according to plan, will get the death benefit from your life insurance.

Beneficiaries for contingencies will serve as a backup. You may designate as many primary beneficiaries and contingent beneficiaries as you like.

As is likewise the case with contingent beneficiaries, the total amount of the death insurance benefits granted to each of the primary beneficiaries must essentially equal 100%.

Several factors may affect how the death benefit is distributed if you divide and split it.

Contingent beneficiaries may be eligible to receive an inheritance from a deceased spouse if one-time survivors of the family perished in an automobile accident.

Who may I specify as the beneficiary?

Your beneficiaries could be other parties to the benefit who will get payment or a death benefit whenever you pass away.

A guardian must be named or a trust must be established to manage any money left to young children.

Reviewing your choices is advised by experts every three to five years as well as after any significant life event, such as a divorce or the beginning of a family.

Unless your policy considers the beneficiary assignment to be irrevocable, you can typically modify your beneficiaries.

Both animals and children are not exempt from these requirements. They’ll have trust when they’re old enough to have kids.

Features of contingent beneficiaries

Children who do not have the legal right to obtain what was allotted because their parent is ineligible are not entitled to apply.

When a minor is listed as a contingent beneficiary, a legal guardian is chosen to care for the child until they are of legal age. From money totaling 100%, the contingent recipients receive a certain percentage.

The primary beneficiary of a life insurance policy or retirement savings account, for instance, receives $1,000 every month for ten years.

The money is given to the principal beneficiary in the same way that it is given to the primary beneficiary of a person who passes away due to a divorce or the death of a child.

How can I modify my beneficiaries?

Contrarily, an estate plan is a living document.

Even though it’s hard to make a plan that can account for every scenario, you may ensure that your preparations are appropriate by consulting with a seasoned estate planner.

You could be tempted to update your beneficiaries if you completely forgot about who would inherit your possessions.

In an irrevocable bank account, the beneficiaries cannot be changed. Spouses engaged should consult an expert in your industry to make sure they organise their affairs in the most favourable and effective way feasible as changing beneficiaries could have major tax repercussions.

Recognizing the different beneficiary categories

The entities with the initial claim to your assets following your death are the asset’s principal beneficiaries.

A dependant beneficiary can only inherit from an account or insurance policy if the principal beneficiary or beneficiaries have passed away or there is no one else who can.

If you had two children and designated your son as the primary or principal donor and your daughter as the contingent beneficiary, only your son would be the beneficiary of the assets following your passing, excluding the possibility that he would outlive you.

You also have the option to identify your children as a contingent beneficiary and make your spouse the principal beneficiary of your property.

Is it possible to have several beneficiaries?

Any taxable account or investment may have beneficiaries, which you can designate. For one asset at once, you may also designate contingent beneficiaries.

Keep in mind that your secondary recipients will only receive the asset if your primary beneficiary or beneficiaries are unable to. Several contributory benefits may be made in a single association.

Who should I designate as a potential beneficiary?

Even though contingent beneficiaries can occasionally only be other relatives, close friends and other relatives are frequently included as well.

In retirement accounts or on life insurance plans, many contingent beneficiaries may be listed.

Can the same individual serve as both the primary and contingent beneficiaries?

Do various beneficiaries constitute one household? Estate plans frequently fail to identify the same individuals as both principal and dependent beneficiaries.

It’s crucial to avoid designating the same person in both roles because the contingent beneficiary serves as a backup.

Why is a contingent beneficiary necessary?

To prevent a contested property from going before a probate court is the primary goal of designating a contingent beneficiary.

The most practical strategy to manage how your assets pass through is to appoint a contingent beneficiary. The family’s eligibility to receive the property and the compensation is determined by a court.

Do beneficiaries of life insurance policies trump a will?

A trust or will cannot take the place of an insurance policy. Never release the life insurance beneficiary.

The majority of life insurance policies allow for simple adjustments or allow for beneficiary changes at death, for instance following a divorce.

Does life insurance pass to the beneficiary or the estate?

The beneficiaries indicated on the policies are the only ones who get benefits under a life insurance agreement.

You should steer clear of any probate concerns as these are typically not a part of the executors’ probation estate.

Does having a will effect life insurance?

In other words, since your will has no bearing on the life insurance policy, the beneficiary designated in the policy will be eligible for life insurance benefits.

But, you are aware that the beneficiary of your will has the right to the remaining assets and property.

Did the main recipient receive everything?

The person or organisation who receives your assets upon your passing is known as the main beneficiary. . Unless the main or principle beneficiary has passed away or is otherwise unable to be located, a contingent beneficiary will often inherit something from a policy.

Can a contingent beneficiary be a trust?

A contingent trust is one in which the named beneficiaries won’t receive any assets unless a certain event occurs. …

To ensure that the property passes to a different party in the event that the primary beneficiaries pass away, you can add contingency beneficiaries to the contingent trust.

In terms of life insurance, what does the contingent percentage mean?

If the primary beneficiary has passed away or cannot be found, a contingent beneficiary will get the proceeds or payout. ….

It is possible to designate numerous contingent beneficiaries, each of whom will get a particular sum totaling 100%.

Should children be the main beneficiaries or secondary ones?

Because life insurance companies are not liable to any children directly until they reach the age of majority, which is often 18 or 21 depending on state laws, your customers should not identify or list their underage children as direct victims.


You now know what a contingent beneficiary is—someone who will inherit property from your estate in the event of your passing.

This type of arrangement might not effect your primary beneficiary, and the beneficiary or beneficiaries can only get the benefits if they are still alive at the time of your death. Don’t worry if any of this appeared unclear to you.

Give us a call at 855-380-3300 and we’ll be happy to help you with any questions you may have about contingencies. We’re here for you. And as always, thank you for reading our blog post explaining what a contingent beneficiary is in detail. Hopefully, it is now crystal clear.