• Trustee (Living Trust)
    "Trustee or successor trustee(s) under a written trust agreement with ________ dated ________."
  • Trustee (Testamentary Trust)
    "Trustee(s) of the Trust created under the Last Will and Testament of ________, the Insured."

  • Creditor - A lender should not be named. Instead grant a Collateral Assignment, to be released when debt is repaid. If lender insists on being named,
    "Northern Bank, 13 Main, City, State; Creditor of the insured, as it's interests may appear."

  • Partnership
    "Smith and Smith, a Partnership, 13 Main, City, State"
  • Corporation
    "Smith and Smith, Inc, a __(State)__ Corporation, 13 Main, City, State"
  • WHEN IN DOUBT, direct client to seek professional counsel from an accountant or lawyer.



  • One primary beneficiary
    "Jane Doe, Spouse"
  • Two primary beneficiaries
    "John Doe, Father, 50%; and Jane Doe, Mother, 50%, or to the survivor"

  • Two primary beneficiaries in unequal shares
    "John Doe, Father, 25%; and Jane Doe, Mother, 75%; or 100% to the survivor."

  • One primary and one secondary beneficiary
    "Jane Doe, Spouse, if living, otherwise to Jack Doe, Son"
  • One primary and two secondary beneficiaries
    "Jane Doe, Spouse, if living, otherwise Jack Doe, Son, and Janet Doe, Daughter, or to the survivor." (Example of per capita.)
  • Two primary and one secondary beneficiaries
    "John Doe, Father, and Jane Doe, Mother, or the survivor if either survives, otherwise Jack Doe, Son"

  • Named children (per capita or per stirpes)
    "Jack Doe, Son, and Janet Doe, Daughter, equal shares per capita"
    "Jack Doe, Son, and Janet Doe, Daughter, equal shares per stirpes"



Beneficiary designations should be clear, concise, specific, and must comply with State Insurable Interest regulations. They were never intended to replace a properly drawn Will or the ongoing management that can be provided by a Trust. Use percentages to set share size instead of fractions or amounts. Avoid naming "The Estate" as it could force the death benefit to go through probate before it can be paid out. Instead of naming minor-aged children, suggest having an attorney include a Testamentary Trust in the client's Will. As always, clients should rely on their own tax and legal counsel for specific guidance. This is not an exhaustive listing, but offers suggested wordings for some common situations:

Suggested Beneficiary Designations

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