beneficiary

noun
ben·​e·​fi·​cia·​ry | \ˌbe-nə-ˈfi-shē-ˌer-ē, -e-rē, -ˈfi-sh(ə-)rē \
plural beneficiaries

Definition of beneficiary 

1 : a person or thing that receives help or an advantage from something : one that benefits from something the main beneficiaries of these economic reforms

2a law : the person designated to receive the income of an estate that is subject to a trust (see trust entry 1 sense 3a)

b : the person named (as in an insurance policy) to receive proceeds or benefits (see benefit entry 1 sense 2b) named her husband as the sole beneficiary of her life insurance policy

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Did You Know?

Beneficiary is often used in connection with life insurance, but it shows up in many other contexts as well. A college may be the beneficiary of a private donation. Your uncle's will may make a church his sole beneficiary, in which case all his money and property will go to it when he dies. A "third-party beneficiary" of a contract is a person (often a child) who the people signing the contract (which is usually an insurance policy or an employee-benefit plan) want to benefit from it. In a more general way, a small business may be a beneficiary of changes to the tax code, or a restaurant may be the beneficiary when the one across the street closes down and its whole lunch crowd starts coming in.

Examples of beneficiary in a Sentence

The college was a beneficiary of the private grant.

Recent Examples on the Web

But in regard to other programs that don’t require beneficiaries to work, such as Medicaid — most of the recipients work anyway. Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, "GOP plan to get Americans off food stamps puts 4 million children and seniors at risk," 15 Oct. 2018 Medicaid beneficiaries can call 1-888-545-2600 for information on how to access treatment; people without insurance can call the city’s Behavioral Health Services Initiative at 215-546-1200. Aubrey Whelan, Philly.com, "West Philadelphia nervously watches as fentanyl kills the unsuspecting," 5 July 2018 Long imprisoned, man walks free after Greitens grants clemency Advertisement Rodney Lincoln, who was convicted for manslaughter and two counts of assault, walked free Friday, a beneficiary of then-Gov. Max Londberg, kansascity, "Man sentenced to 80 years for KC burglary walks free on Greitens' final day," 3 June 2018 Shirkey said the intent is not to punish a beneficiary who misses a reporting deadline by a day or two. David Eggert, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan lawmaker: Unemployment exemption gone from Medicaid bill," 21 May 2018 Democrats who were negotiating with Mike Crapo, beneficiary of almost $900,000 in campaign contributions over the past five years from the securities and investment industries. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "'Bipartisan' Does Not Inherently Mean 'Good'," 7 Mar. 2018 So that means Memphis will now be the beneficiary to what Akron enjoyed over the past 19 years. Branson Wright, cleveland.com, "Memphis gains from addition of WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational (photos)," 15 Apr. 2018 Another unresolved funding issue involves the 157-acre UMKC campus, which stands to be a major beneficiary of expanded service. Bill Turque, kansascity, "Taxes for KC Streetcar extension to UMKC approved by wide margin in mail-in ballots," 20 June 2018 Carly, along with two fellow honorary co-chairs, Tyler Backus and Jeremy Brown, will share their stories during the weeklong tournament in an effort to explain why the camp is such a worthy beneficiary of the Travelers Championship. Kelli Stacy, courant.com, "Travelers Championship Opens With Special Moment From Hole In The Wall Gang Camp Children," 18 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'beneficiary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of beneficiary

1662, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for beneficiary

see benefice

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Last Updated

16 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for beneficiary

The first known use of beneficiary was in 1662

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More Definitions for beneficiary

beneficiary

noun

Financial Definition of beneficiary

What It Is

A beneficiary is any person or organization that receives assets from a person after that person’s death.

How It Works

A will is a legal document that indicates how a person wants his or her estate (money and property) to be distributed after death. A will may also describe any wishes for funeral and burial arrangements, and it may designate guardians for minor children.

When the testator (the person who created the will) dies, the executor, who is named in the will, administers the distribution of the estate to the beneficiaries. An executor administers the distribution of an estate to beneficiaries.

Wills aren’t the only things that have beneficiaries. Insurance policies also often have beneficiaries (particularly life insurance and annuities).

It is important to note that a testator or insured person can change a beneficiary at almost any time, for any reason, and should keep the original copy of the related documents in a safe place. A copy should also be given to the executor.

Why It Matters

Naming a beneficiary of your assets is part of the process of estate planning. However, court procedures, called probate, are often required to pass assets from a deceased person to beneficiaries, because the testator is no longer around to sign deeds and other documents necessary to transfer the assets.

Without naming beneficiaries to your financial assets, relatives can spend a lifetime (and their life savings) battling over your assets, friends and nonblood relatives can get entirely ignored, and former spouses could bequeath your assets to their children from other marriages. This may be what you intended, but without an adequate estate plan, you can never be sure. It can be intimidating, but it is a necessary step to ensuring that your assets end up where you want them, without the interference of the Internal Revenue Service or third parties.

Source: Investing Answers

beneficiary

noun

English Language Learners Definition of beneficiary

: a person, organization, etc., that is helped by something : someone or something that benefits from something

: a person, organization, etc., that receives money or property when someone dies

beneficiary

noun
ben·​e·​fi·​cia·​ry | \ˌbe-nə-ˈfi-shē-ˌer-ē \
plural beneficiaries

Kids Definition of beneficiary

: a person who benefits or will benefit from something

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beneficiary

noun
ben·​e·​fi·​cia·​ry | \ˌbe-nə-ˈfi-shē-ˌer-ē, -ˈfi-shə-rē \
plural beneficiaries

Legal Definition of beneficiary 

: a person or entity (as a charity or estate) that receives a benefit from something (as a will or other instrument or legal agreement): as

a : the person or entity named or otherwise entitled to receive the principal or income or both from a trust — compare settlor, trustee

contingent beneficiary

: a beneficiary that may receive proceeds from a trust depending on the occurrence of a specified event (as the death of another beneficiary)

income beneficiary

: a beneficiary that according to the provisions of a trust is to receive income but not the principal of the trust

Note: A trust may provide for income to be paid to someone (as a spouse) for his or her lifetime and then for payment of the principal to another person. A trustee is sometimes allowed to distribute some of the principal of the trust to an income beneficiary when necessary for the support of the beneficiary if support of the beneficiary was the purpose of the trust.

b : the person or entity named by the insured of a life insurance policy to receive the proceeds upon the insured's death

contingent beneficiary

: a beneficiary named to receive the insurance proceeds if the primary beneficiary has died

called also secondary beneficiary

primary beneficiary \ ˈprī-​ˌmer-​ē-​, -​mə-​rē-​ \

: a beneficiary named to receive the insurance proceeds before any other

secondary beneficiary \ ˈsek-​ən-​ˌder-​ē-​ \

: contingent beneficiary in this entry

c : a person or entity entitled under a letter of credit to demand payment from the issuer of the letter

d : a person or entity that benefits from a promise, agreement, or contract especially : third-party beneficiary in this entry the contractual beneficiaries…are mortgagees and investors Key Pac. Mortg. Inc. v. Industrial Indem. Co., 845 P.2d 1087 (1993)

creditor beneficiary

: a direct beneficiary whom the party paying for the other party's performance intends to benefit as payment for a debt or obligation — compare donee beneficiary in this entry

direct beneficiary

: a third-party beneficiary to a contract whom the parties to the contract intended to benefit — compare incidental beneficiary in this entry

donee beneficiary

: a direct beneficiary whom the party paying for the other party's performance intends to benefit as a gift or donation

incidental beneficiary

: a third-party beneficiary to a contract whom the parties to the contract did not intend to benefit — compare direct beneficiary in this entry

third-party beneficiary

: a person or entity that is not a party to but has rights under a contract made by two other parties

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