Designating primary and secondary beneficiaries

Posted by Angela Holliday Hansen Esq. | Nov 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

Many people in Maryland have some idea as to who they would like to see inherit their property after they die. However, did you know it is important not only to name a primary beneficiary, but a secondary beneficiary as well?

While the following information is meant for general purposes only, rather than specific legal advice, when writing a will, one should carefully consider who they want as a beneficiary. A beneficiary is a person or organization one wishes to leave a portion of their estate to upon their death. Beneficiaries can be classified as either primary or secondary beneficiaries.

Primary beneficiaries are those that one primarily wants their assets to go to after their death. However, secondary -- also known as contingent -- beneficiaries can also be named in a will. If a primary beneficiary passes away before the creator of the will does or if the primary beneficiary does not meet a specific condition for receiving an inheritance under one's will, the secondary beneficiary can step in and receive the inheritance. It is helpful to use a person's specific name when designating a beneficiary in one's will, rather than using vague terms, such as "grandchildren." This can ensure the proper people or organizations receive their inheritance as stipulated in one's will.

One should also consider adding beneficiaries -- both primary and secondary -- to one's deeds, bank accounts, insurance policies and safe deposit boxes. This can simplify the process of transferring property after one's death. Keep in mind that naming an individual as power of attorney does not mean that person will be considered to be a beneficiary under one's will. Naming that individual as a beneficiary in one's will is necessary if one wishes for that person to inherit a part of one's estate.

As this shows, it is important to consider who to designate as either a primary or a secondary beneficiary of one's estate. By carefully considering all options and drafting a will, it may be possible to specify exactly who will inherit, with as little confusion as possible.

About the Author

Angela Holliday Hansen Esq.

Angela Holliday Hansen, Esq., is a former big firm corporate attorney who now practices family law in Rockville Maryland. Ms. Hansen oversees complex estate administration and drafts...

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100 Park Avenue
Suite 106

Rockville, MD 20850
301-690-0383
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri: 09:00am - 05:00pm

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