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.

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RELATED FAQS
  1. 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 >>
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    A spouse who is the sole primary beneficiary of an IRA can always treat the IRA as his or her own. The contingent beneficiary ... Read Answer >>
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