Primary Beneficiary

DEFINITION of 'Primary Beneficiary'

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.

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