DEFINITION of 'Beneficiary'

Anybody who gains an advantage and/or profits from something. In the financial world, a beneficiary typically refers to someone who is eligible to receive distributions from a trust, will or life insurance policy. Beneficiaries are either named specifically in these documents or they have met the stipulations that make them eligible for whatever distribution is specified.


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BREAKING DOWN 'Beneficiary'

Typically, any person or entity can be named as a beneficiary of a trust, will or life insurance policy and the one distributing the funds (the benefactor) can put various stipulations on the disbursement of funds (e.g. the beneficiary must have attained a certain age or be married). There can also be tax consequences to the beneficiary. For example, while the principal of most life insurance policies is not taxed, the accrued interest might be.

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