Beneficiary Vs Trustee

flik eco finance personal beneficiary vs trustee

 When it comes to estate planning, there are two main options: beneficiary and trustee. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages, which can make it difficult to decide which is the right choice for you. In this personal finance guide, we will compare both options and look into the benefits of each.

By the end of this article, you will be able to make an informed decision about which option is best for your needs!

What is a Beneficiary?

A beneficiary is someone who is legally entitled to receive money or property from another person, usually after that person's death. The money or property that a beneficiary receives is called a bequest.

What is a Trustee?

A trustee is an individual or institution that manages money or property for a beneficiary. The trustee has a fiduciary responsibility to the beneficiaries of the trust, which means they must act in the best interests of those beneficiaries. Trustees can be individuals, banks, or other financial institutions.

What is The Difference Between a Beneficiary and a Trustee?

The main difference between a beneficiary and a trustee is the level of control each has over the assets in the account. A beneficiary allows the account holder to name someone else, typically a family member, to have control over the account should they become incapacitated or die. A trustee, on the other hand, has control over the account from the moment it’s created.

What Are The Different Types of Beneficiary?

There are three different types of beneficiary:


The primary beneficiary is the first person named in the trust document to receive assets from the trust.


The secondary beneficiary is someone who will only receive assets if the primary beneficiary dies before receiving them.


The contingent beneficiary is someone who will only receive assets if both the primary and secondary beneficiaries die before receiving them.

What Are The Different Types of Trustee?

There are four different types of trustee, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. The first type is the corporate trustee.

Corporate Trustee

This type of trustee is usually a bank or other financial institution. The advantage of using a corporate trustee is that they are regulated by state and federal laws. This means that they have to follow certain procedures when it comes to handling the trust.

Individual Trustee

The second type of trustee is the individual trustee. This type of trustee is usually a family member or friend.

Charitable Trust

The third type of trustee is the charitable trust. This type of trustee is usually a charity or non-profit organization.

Special Needs Trust

The fourth type of trustee is the special needs trust. This type of trustee is usually set up for a specific purpose.

What Are The Advantages of a Beneficiary?

There are several advantages of having a beneficiary. One is that the death benefit from a life insurance policy can be paid directly to the beneficiary, avoiding probate. This can save both time and money.

Another advantage is that, in many cases, the beneficiary can receive the proceeds from an annuity or retirement plan without paying taxes on them.

What Are The Advantages of a Trustee?

There are a few advantages of having a trustee manage your finances. One is that trustees are generally required to have more experience than beneficiaries. This means that they may be better equipped to make financial decisions on your behalf.

Another advantage is that trustees can often provide more flexibility when it comes to managing your finances. For example, if you have a trustee managing your finances, they may be able to make changes to your investment portfolio without having to get approval from you first.

What Are The Disadvantages of Beneficiary?

The disadvantages of beneficiary are:

  • You can't change the terms of the trust after it's been established.
  • The trustee has a lot of control over how the assets in the trust are distributed.
  • Beneficiaries can't access the assets in the trust until the trustee decides to distribute them.
  • If the trustee dies, the assets in the trust could be frozen until a new trustee is appointed.
  • The beneficiary might have to pay taxes on the assets in the trust.

What Are The Disadvantages of Trustee?

The disadvantages of a trustee are:

  • The trustee has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries, which means that the trustee must always act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. This can be a burden for the trustee, as they may have to forego their own interests in order to benefit the beneficiaries.
  • If the trust is not properly managed, it can lead to legal problems for the trustee.
  • The trustee may be held liable for any losses incurred by the trust.
  • If the trust is not managed properly, it can lead totax problems for the trustee.

So, Which One Should You Use?

The answer to this question depends on your unique situation. If you're simply looking for someone to manage your finances after you pass away, then a trustee may be the best option. On the other hand, if you're looking for someone to provide financial support to your beneficiaries, then a beneficiary may be a better choice.

What Are Some Alternatives to Using a Beneficiary or a Trustee?

There are a few alternatives to using either a beneficiary or trustee when it comes to your personal finances.

One option is to use what's called a "self-settled trust." This type of trust is created by the person who will be receiving the assets (the settlor), and names themselves as the beneficiary. The main advantage of this method is that it can protect your assets from creditors and lawsuits.

Another option is to use a life insurance policy as your primary asset protection tool. This method involves naming someone as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, which will pay out a death benefit to them upon your passing. The death benefit can be used to help cover any debts or expenses that you leave behind, as well as providing a financial cushion for your loved ones.

Finally, you could also consider using a combination of both methods to create an even stronger asset protection plan.

For example, you could have a self-settled trust and life insurance policy in place, with the life insurance policy naming the trust as the beneficiary. This would ensure that your assets are protected from creditors and lawsuits, while also providing a financial safety net for your loved ones.

What Are Some Tips For Using a Beneficiary?

There are a few key things to keep in mind when using a beneficiary:

  • Keep your beneficiary designation up to date. As your life changes, so too should your beneficiary designation. Make sure to update it whenever there is a major change in your life, such as getting married, having children, or getting divorced.
  • Name more than one beneficiary. If something happens to the first beneficiary you named, the second beneficiary will receive the assets.
  • Be specific. When naming a beneficiary, be as specific as possible. For example, instead of just listing your spouse, list their full name and date of birth.

What Are Some Tips For Using a Trustee?

When you are using a trustee, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The trustee is the legal owner of the assets in the trust. This means that the trustee has a fiduciary responsibility to manage the trust property for the benefit of the beneficiaries.
  • The trustee has discretion over how to invest and manage the trust property. However, this discretion must be exercised in a prudent manner and in accordance with the terms of the trust agreement.
  • The trustee must keep accurate records of all trust transactions and maintain proper accounting records.
  • The trustee must provide regular reports to the beneficiaries on the status of the trust and its assets.
  • The trustee must follow the instructions set forth in the trust agreement and act in good faith.

About Jermaine Hagan (The Plantsman)

Jermaine Hagan, also known as The Plantsman is the Founder of Flik Eco. Jermaine is the perfect hybrid of personal finance expert and nemophilist. On a mission to make personal finance simple and accessible, Jermaine uses his inside knowledge to help the average Joe, Kwame or Sarah to improve their lives. Before founding Flik Eco, Jermaine managed teams across several large financial companies, including Equifax, Admiral Plc, New Wave Capital & HSBC. He has been featured in several large publications including BBC, The Guardian & The Times.

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