When it comes to estate planning, one of the most important decisions you will make is who your beneficiaries will be. There are two types of beneficiaries: primary and secondary. So, which one is right for you?
In this personal finance guide, we will compare both options and look into the advantages and disadvantages of each. By the end, you should have a better understanding of which type of beneficiary is right for you!
Primary Beneficiary Vs Secondary Beneficiary Table of Contents
What is a Primary Beneficiary?
A primary beneficiary is the person or persons named in a will, life insurance policy, retirement account, or annuity to receive the assets upon the death of the owner. The primary beneficiary has first claim on the assets and receives them before any other beneficiaries.
What is a Secondary Beneficiary?
A secondary beneficiary is someone who only receives money from a life insurance policy or retirement account if the primary beneficiary dies. The primary beneficiary is the person who would receive money first. If something happens to the primary beneficiary, then the secondary beneficiary would receive the money.
What is The Difference Between a Primary Beneficiary and a Secondary Beneficiary?
The primary beneficiary is the person who will receive the death benefit from a life insurance policy. The secondary beneficiary is the person who will receive the death benefit if the primary beneficiary dies before the policyholder.
When you're deciding which beneficiaries to name on your life insurance policy, it's important to understand the difference between a primary and a secondary beneficiary.
A primary beneficiary is the person who will receive the death benefit from a life insurance policy if the policyholder dies. A secondary beneficiary is the person who will receive the death benefit if the primary beneficiary dies before the policyholder.
If you name more than one primary beneficiary, each will receive an equal share of the death benefit. If you name more than one secondary beneficiary, each will receive an equal share of the death benefit only if all of the primary beneficiaries have died.
If you're married, your spouse is usually your primary beneficiary. If you have children, they are typically your secondary beneficiaries. But you can name anyone as a beneficiary, including a friend, family member, or even a charity.
What Are The Different Types of Primary Beneficiary?
There are two types of primary beneficiary:
- Natural Primary Beneficiary
- Designated Primary Beneficiary
Natural Primary Beneficiary
The natural primary beneficiary is the person who would inherit your assets if you died without a will or any other instructions, according to state intestacy laws.
Designated Primary Beneficiary
The designated primary beneficiary is the person (or persons) that you name in a will or trust document to inherit your assets.
What Are The Different Types of Secondary Beneficiary?
There are three different types of secondary beneficiary:
- Per Stirpes
Contingent beneficiaries are only named if the primary beneficiary dies before the account holder.
Per stirpes beneficiaries are named in the event that the primary beneficiary dies before the account holder, but they only receive a portion of the account balance.
Survivorship beneficiaries are named in the event that the primary beneficiary dies before the account holder, and they receive the entire account balance.
What Are The Advantages of a Primary Beneficiary?
The advantages of having a primary beneficiary are many. For starters, if something were to happen to you, the money would go directly to them. This can be helpful if you have young children or if you are single and don't have anyone else to take care of your finances.
Another advantage is that you can change your primary beneficiary at any time. So, if you get married or have another child, you can simply update your beneficiary designation form. This flexibility can be helpful if your circumstances change over time.
Finally, having a primary beneficiary can give you peace of mind knowing that there is someone who will take care of your finances if something happens to you.
What Are The Advantages of a Secondary Beneficiary?
There are several advantages of designating a secondary beneficiary.
First, if the primary beneficiary predeceases the account owner, the assets will not have to go through probate.
Second, the secondary beneficiary can receive the assets more quickly than if they were subject to probate.
Finally, if there is more than one primary beneficiary, the secondary beneficiary can act as a tiebreaker in the event that the primary beneficiaries cannot agree on how to distribute the assets.
What Are The Disadvantages of Primary Beneficiary?
There are a few disadvantages to having a primary beneficiary. The first is that if something happens to the primary beneficiary, the money will go to the secondary beneficiary. This can be a problem if the secondary beneficiary is not responsible with money.
Another disadvantage of having a primary beneficiary is that the primary beneficiary can change the Beneficiary Designation form at any time. This means that if there is a change in the primary beneficiary's circumstances, they could change the form and the money would go to someone else.
Finally, if the primary beneficiary dies before the account holder, the money will go to the secondary beneficiary. This can be a problem if the account holder wants the money to go to someone else, such as a charity.
What Are The Disadvantages of Secondary Beneficiary?
There are some potential disadvantages of designating a secondary beneficiary.
First, if the primary beneficiary dies before you, the secondary beneficiary will only inherit your assets if the contingent beneficiaries are also deceased.
Second, if you do not update your beneficiary designation form after getting married or divorced, your ex-spouse could still inherit your assets.
Finally, if you have a complex financial situation, it may be better to work with a financial advisor to create a more comprehensive estate plan.
So, Which One Should You Use?
There's no easy answer when it comes to choosing between a primary and secondary beneficiary. Ultimately, the decision will come down to your unique circumstances and what makes the most sense for you and your family.
If you're unsure of which option to choose, it's always best to consult with a financial advisor or estate planning attorney. They can help you weigh the pros and cons of each option and make the best decision for your situation.
What Are Some Alternatives to Using a Primary Beneficiary or a Secondary Beneficiary?
If you're not interested in using a primary or secondary beneficiary, there are a few other options available to you. You could choose to have your assets divided equally among your heirs, or you could create a trust.
Trusts can be used to protect your assets and ensure that they're distributed according to your wishes. You should speak with an attorney or financial advisor to learn more about trusts and how they could work for you.
Do you have any other questions about primary vs secondary beneficiaries? Leave a comment below and let us know! We're here to help in any way we can.
What Are Some Tips For Using a Primary Beneficiary?
Some tips for using a primary beneficiary are to make sure that the person is responsible and capable of handling the money, as well as to ensure that they are someone you trust.
It is also important to keep in mind that the primary beneficiary can change at any time, so it is important to keep this in mind when making your decision.
Finally, it is important to remember that the primary beneficiary is not guaranteed to receive the money, so it is important to have a backup plan in place in case they do not.
What Are Some Tips For Using a Secondary Beneficiary?
If you opt to name a secondary beneficiary, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it’s important to make sure that the person you name as your secondary beneficiary is someone who you trust implicitly. This is because, should something happen to you, the secondary beneficiary will have a lot of control over your finances.
Second, you should keep in mind that the secondary beneficiary will only receive the money if the primary beneficiary dies before you do. This means that it’s important to choose someone who is younger than you are, as there’s a greater chance that they will outlive you.
Finally, it’s important to remember that you can change your beneficiary at any time. So, if you find yourself in a situation where you no longer trust the person you’ve named as your secondary beneficiary, you can simply change it.