Insurance 101

Related Information

  • Questions about Beneficiaries

  • What is my beneficiary designation?
    As an insurance policy owner, you select the person or organization that you want to receive the benefits payable from the policy when the insured dies. Selecting the beneficiary is the most important right that you have. You also have the right to change the beneficiary— unless you identify your selected beneficiary as an irrevocable beneficiary.

    What is a contingent beneficiary?
    When you name contingent beneficiaries, you identify the person or persons who you want to receive the benefit if your primary beneficiary dies before you.

    Let’s say that I name my spouse as my beneficiary and we divorce, but I still want him or her to receive the benefit. Do I need to change my beneficiary?
    Yes, in Michigan, you must change the designation to clearly identify your intended beneficiary as your ex-husband or ex-wife.

    How often do I need to review my beneficiary designation?
    At least once a year. When you purchase a life insurance policy, you have a plan to provide funds to a certain person or persons or to an organization. Let’s say that you select your brother as your beneficiary. If your brother dies before you do and you do not update the beneficiary information, the benefit will be paid to your estate. Let’s say that you marry, but you do not update your beneficiary designation to include your spouse,we will honor your selection, not your intention. When you purchase your life insurance policy, you have a plan, but life sometimes changes these plans. Make sure that your beneficiary designation fits the needs of your current plan.

    Should I name my children as my beneficiaries?
    Rather than naming each child, you may want to name your children as a group—“children of the insured.” This way, if you have more children after you designate the group as your beneficiary, your newest children will be included as beneficiaries.

    What is a primary beneficiary?
    A primary beneficiary is the person who will receive the death benefit if he or she is living at the time of the insured’s death. You can designate more than one primary beneficiary, and you can identify how the beneficiaries will share the benefit — equally or in some other proportion.

    But, there are important issues to consider when you name your children as your beneficiaries, especially in this time of extended families. Not only that, if your children are minors when you die, the insurance company cannot pay them the benefits directly. The courts will have to appoint a conservator for the minor children. A better solution is to create a trust for the benefit of your children and name that trust as the beneficiary. Talk with your Farm Bureau Insurance agent about some of the possible problems before you make your beneficiary selection.

    What do I need to do to change my beneficiary?
    Contact your Farm Bureau Insurance agent. He or she will give you the appropriate forms to complete. You cannot change your beneficiary with a phone call or an e-mail. You must complete and sign applicable forms.

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