Guide to Naming Beneficiaries
Do you have a question about the beneficiary process at Woman’s Life? Listed below are answers to the most frequently asked beneficiary related questions. If your question is not answered on this page, please contact us for assistance.
- What is a beneficiary?
- How do I change my beneficiary?
- What are primary and contingent beneficiaries?
- What are non-natural beneficiaries?
- What are per stirpes beneficary designations?
- What happens when no named beneficiary exists?
- What information should I provide about the beneficiary?
- What is the most common mistake that is made in regard to a beneficiary designation?
- Where can i find my beneficiary information?
What is a beneficiary?
One of the most critical aspects of a life insurance or annuity policy is the designation of the beneficiary, since this is the process by which the policy owner designates the person or persons who are to receive the death benefit. The Society will pay the death benefit of your policies to the beneficiaries you designate. However, if the designated beneficiaries predecease you, the benefits may not be paid as you would wish. This page explains the different classes of beneficiaries and describes Society procedures if no beneficiaries exist at the date of your death. As always, our Member Service Department is available to answer any questions you may have.
How do I change my beneficiary?
If you wish to change your beneficiary, you will need to complete the Application for Change of Beneficiary form. The certificate owner must complete the form and mail it to the Home Office. We will then send a copy of the approved form to you for your records.
What are primary and contingent beneficiaries?
A primary beneficiary is the person or persons that are to receive the death benefit in the event of your death. A contingent beneficiary is a person or persons to receive the benefit if you die and your named primary beneficiary has predeceased you. When naming more than one primary or contingent beneficiary make sure that you indicate the share that each beneficiary is to receive.
What are non-natural beneficiaries?
Non-natural beneficiaries include companies, trusts and charities. If a non-natural beneficiary is designated as primary, there is no need to name a contingent. When a trust is named, you will need to provide a copy of the trust document page identifying the trust, the page appointing the trustee, and the trust document signature page.
What are per stirpes beneficary designations?
When one or more beneficiaries (primary or contingent) predecease the insured, the benefit is usually divided equally among the surviving beneficiaries of the same class. However, this is not the case with a per stirpes designation. If you designate your beneficiaries followed by the phrase per stirpes then the direct heirs of each beneficiary who predeceases the insured would receive the deceased beneficiary’s share of the benefit.
What happens when no named beneficiary exists?
When no beneficiary exists, most likely due to all beneficiaries predeceasing the insured, Woman’s Life bylaws provide for the order in which death benefits are paid. If no beneficiary exists, payments will be made in order to the following classes:
- Insured’s husband or wife
- Insured’s children, natural or by legal adoption
- Insured’s mother and father or the survivor thereof, natural or by legal adoption
- Insured’s grandchildren
- Insured’s estate
Payments will be made in order to these classes with each person of one class sharing equally to the exclusion of the following classes. What that means is if the deceased is survived by a spouse, the spouse is entitled to the benefits and the remaining classes would not be entitled to any benefits. Also, if the amount payable under the policy is $1,500 or less, the Society’s bylaws allow for the payment to a relative or person appearing to the Society to be equitably entitled to the benefits by reason of having incurred expense in any way on behalf of the insured for the insured’s maintenance, last sickness or burial or any other purpose.
What information should I provide about the beneficiary?
In order to pay the policy proceeds in accordance with your beneficiary designation, we need to be able to identify the beneficiaries. In addition to full name and relationship to you, it is important to include the beneficiary’s address and social security number in the designation. Failure to update a beneficiary’s current address can delay payment of the death benefit.
What is the most common mistake that is made in regard to a beneficiary designation?
By far, the most common mistake made is the policy owner failing to review their beneficiary designations on a regular basis and upon the occurrence of a major event, such as birth, death, marriage or divorce. Such a failure can lead to unintended consequences, such as proceeds being payable to an ex-spouse, the necessity of commencing probate proceeding to distribute the proceeds or even payment to the state under its escheat laws.
Where can I find my beneficiary information?
Your current beneficiary designation can be found on the MemberWeb. Visit the Woman’s Life website, choose the MemberWeb Logon link and enter in your username and password. If you don’t already have a MemberWeb account, click on the MemberWeb Logon link, choose “Register for an Account” and fill in the required information.