Beneficiary: A beneficiary is an individual or entity designated to receive benefits, assets, or rights from a particular source, such as a will, trust, life insurance policy, retirement account, or investment account. The person who establishes the arrangement or policy (the grantor, testator, policyholder, or account holder) determines who will be the beneficiary.
Here are a few examples of common scenarios where beneficiaries are designated:
- Wills and Trusts: In a last will and testament or a trust, the grantor can specify beneficiaries who will inherit assets, such as money, real estate, or personal belongings, upon the grantor’s death. The beneficiaries may be family members, friends, charitable organizations, or other entities.
- Life Insurance Policies: When someone purchases a life insurance policy, they typically name one or more beneficiaries who will receive the death benefit upon the policyholder’s death. The beneficiary may be a spouse, child, family member, trust, or any other designated person or entity.
- Retirement Accounts: Retirement accounts, such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401(k) plans, require the account holder to designate beneficiaries who will inherit the funds upon the account holder’s death. The beneficiaries may be individuals, such as a spouse or children, or entities like trusts or charities.
- Investment Accounts: Some investment accounts, like brokerage accounts, allow individuals to designate beneficiaries who will inherit the assets held in the account upon the account holder’s death. The designated beneficiaries can receive the securities, cash, or other investments held in the account.
Beneficiaries play a crucial role in estate planning and the distribution of assets after the grantor’s death. It’s important to regularly review and update beneficiary designations to ensure they reflect one’s current wishes, especially after major life events like marriages, divorces, births, or deaths. It is recommended to consult with legal and financial professionals when designating beneficiaries to ensure the process aligns with applicable laws and the individual’s overall estate planning goals.