What is a 'Primary Beneficiary'

A primary beneficiary is a beneficiary in a will, trust or insurance policy that is first in line to receive named benefits. Primary beneficiaries are contrasted with contingent beneficiaries, who will only receive benefits if the primary beneficiary has died. There can be more than one primary beneficiary.

BREAKING DOWN 'Primary Beneficiary'

For example, an IRA can name a spouse as the primary beneficiary, while the same person's will may name the children as primary beneficiaries. The spouse will receive the proceeds of the IRA and the children will receive the assets for which they are named primary beneficiaries in the will. By definition, a sole beneficiary is a primary beneficiary.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Named Beneficiary

    This term refers to any beneficiary named in a will, a trust, ...
  2. Secondary Beneficiary

    A person or entity that inherits assets under a will, trust or ...
  3. Alternate Beneficiary

    In a will, an alternate beneficiary is usually named in case ...
  4. Absolute Beneficiary

    A designation of a beneficiary that can not be changed without ...
  5. Contingent Beneficiary

    1. A beneficiary specified by an insurance contract holder who ...
  6. Beneficiary Clause

    A beneficiary clause is a provision in a life insurance policy ...
Related Articles
  1. Retirement

    Who is a Beneficiary?

    A beneficiary is a person or entity that receives funds, assets, property or other benefits from a trust, will, or life insurance policy.
  2. Retirement

    Why You Need to Update Retirement Account Beneficiaries

    The designation of beneficiaries in retirement accounts takes precedence over a will. Don't forget to keep them updated.
  3. Retirement

    Mistakes In Designating A Retirement Beneficiary

    Make sure your beneficiary designations not only reflect your intentions but also meet the requirements to be effective.
  4. Retirement

    An Estate Planning Must: Update Your Beneficiaries

    Life changes make it time to rewrite your plan's designations.
  5. Financial Advisor

    How to Handle Client Beneficiary Designations

    Beneficiary designations are a critical financial planning step that can be easily overlooked. Here's how to ensure they are properly done.
  6. Financial Advisor

    Why You Need to Find the Right IRA Beneficiary

    It definitely matters who you pick as your IRA beneficiary—and how you go about it. And in some cases, your best option may be to go with a trust.
  7. Investing

    What's a Contingent Beneficiary?

    A contingent beneficiary is a person who will receive a payout from a will, trust, life insurance policy or other annuity, based on a specific condition. For an insurance policy, the contingency ...
  8. Financial Advisor

    Why Your Will Should Name Designated Beneficiaries

    Find out how to make the tough decisions when it comes to choosing who will receive your assets and how they will be paid out.
  9. Retirement

    3 Deadlines For Retirement Plan Beneficiaries

    To take full advantage of new RMD regulations, beneficiaries need to take action before important deadlines.
  10. Retirement

    Be Smart in Naming Beneficiaries of Your 401(k)

    Listen up: Hidden in the pesky details of filling out 401(k) forms are important tax implications. And it's a legacy to people you love.
RELATED FAQS
  1. If both the primary and contingent beneficiaries are unavailable, what happens to ...

    Understand the difference between primary and contingent beneficiaries and what happens to assets when neither are present ... Read Answer >>
  2. What are the restrictions for naming a given individual as my contingent beneficiary?

    Understand what restrictions may exist, depending on your state and the policy you choose, on naming your life insurance ... Read Answer >>
  3. What does U.S. law say about contingent beneficiaries?

    Learn about regulations the United States has on the naming of contingent beneficiaries, the types of contingencies that ... Read Answer >>
  4. What are the pros/cons of naming a trust as the beneficiary of a retirement account?

    This has been the topic of an ongoing debate in the financial community between estate planning attorneys and financial advisors. ... Read Answer >>
  5. Under what circumstances will a contingent beneficiary receive an insurance payout?

    Learn the different types of contingent beneficiaries and what conditions must be met for these beneficiaries to receive ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Benchmark

    A standard against which the performance of a security, mutual fund or investment manager can be measured.
  2. Mobile Wallet

    Mobile wallet is a virtual wallet that stores payment card information on a mobile device.
  3. Leverage

    1. The use of various financial instruments or borrowed capital, such as margin, to increase the potential return of an investment. ...
  4. Trumponomics

    Trumponomics is a term for the economic policies of President Donald Trump.
  5. Universal Health Care Coverage

    An organized healthcare system that provides healthcare benefits to all persons in a specified region. Many countries, such ...
  6. Davos World Economic Forum

    The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum hosted at Davos—a small ski town in Switzerland—in January each year is among ...
Trading Center