When you get a life insurance policy you are required to name a beneficiary. Typically the person or people who receive the payout on your life insurance policy after you die. Some people choose to make the beneficiary a trust, charity or estate.
You can also choose a percentage of the payout to go to different people. Typically the life insurance holder will be asked to pick two kinds of beneficiaries: a primary and a secondary. The secondary beneficiary will receive the payout if the primary beneficiary is deceased.
The majority of people buy life insurance to provide for children who are left behind. Ordinarily, this is done by making the surviving spouse or caretaker the beneficiary. But what if you’re widowed or, both you and your partner pass away at the same time?
First, know that it’s not a good idea to name a minor as a beneficiary. That’s because the law forbids life insurance payouts to anyone who has not reached the age of majority, which is 18 to 21 depending on your state. If a child were to be named, then it would be turned over to probate court. The court will name a guardian who has oversight of the money/estate until the child comes of age.
Fortunately, there are two options. The first is to name an adult custodian. The custodian should be someone you can trust to use the money for things like housing, health care, and education until the child reaches the age of majority. At that point, any remaining money gets turned over the child and they can spend it any way they want.
The second option is to work with an attorney to set up a trust. In this scenario, the trust is the beneficiary and a trustee is named to manage and distribute the funds. The main advantage of a trust over naming a custodian is having more control.
Amanda Austin has good points about choosing the right beneficiary for your life insurance policy. She goes into more detail in her article found here: