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Term used to refer to the person who receives the benefits of a trust or the recipient of the proceeds of a life insurance policy.


1. In insurance, the person or (more rarely) organization that receives money from the insurance company when the insured event occurs. For example, in life insurance, when the insured person dies, a beneficiary may be his/her spouse This means that the spouse receives the agreed-upon amount of money from the insurance company.

2. In annuities, the annuitant. The annuitant is the person who receives the agreed-upon amount of money from the annuity starting at the agreed-upon time. Depending on the type of annuity, the annuitant may be the person who paid into the annuity, or may be a relative or other designee of that person, such as a widow or widower.


A beneficiary is the person or organization who receives assets that are held in your name in a retirement plan, or are paid on your behalf by an insurance company, after your death.

If you have established a trust, the beneficiary you name receives the assets of the trust.

A life insurance policy pays your beneficiary the face value of your policy minus any loans you haven't repaid when you die. An annuity contract pays the beneficiary the accumulated assets as dictated by the terms of the contract.

A retirement plan, such as an IRA or 401(k), pays your beneficiary the value of the accumulated assets or requires the beneficiary to withdraw assets either as a lump sum or over a period of time, depending on the plan. Some retirement plans require that you name your spouse as beneficiary or obtain written permission to name someone else.

You may name any person or institution -- or several people and institutions -- as beneficiary or contingent beneficiary of a trust, a retirement plan, annuity contract, or life insurance policy. A contingent beneficiary is one who inherits the assets if the primary beneficiary has died or chooses not to accept them.


A person who receives the benefits from something although perhaps not the legal owner of the thing.In real estate,the term is usually encountered in the context of a trust,in which a trustee holds what is called bare legal title to the property,but the property itself and all sums gained from the property are held for the beneficiary.Care should be taken when buying,selling,or leasing property that involves a beneficiary,and,if at all possible,one should gain the beneficiary's signature even though it is not technically required.Otherwise,you could find yourself in the middle of litigation between the trustee and the beneficiary if the beneficiary claims the actions taken were illegal and not authorized.

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