If your loved ones have invested, saved or insured themselves to any degree, you may be named as a beneficiary to one or more of their accounts, policies or assets in the event of their deaths. While we all hope “that day” never comes, we do need to know what to do financially if and when it does.
Legally, just who is a “beneficiary”? IRAs, annuities, life insurance policies and qualified retirement plans such as 401(k)s and 403(b)s are set up so that the accounts, policies or assets are payable or transferable on the death of the owner to a beneficiary, usually an individual named on a contractual document that is filled out when the account or policy is first created.
In addition to the primary beneficiary, the account or policy owner is asked to name a contingent (secondary) beneficiary. The contingent beneficiary will receive the asset if the primary beneficiary is deceased.
Some retirement accounts and policies may have multiple ben…