Definition of Beneficiary
This is the person who benefits from the terms of a trust, a will, an RRSP, a RRIF, a LIF, an annuity or a life insurance policy. In relation to RRSP's, RRIF's, LIF's, Annuities and of course life insurance, if the beneficiary is a spouse, parent, offspring or grand-child, they are considered to be a preferred beneficiary. If the insured has named a preferred beneficiary, the death benefit is invariably protected from creditors. There have been some court challenges of this right of protection but so far they have been unsuccessful. See "Creditor Protection" below. A beneficiary under the age of 18 must be represented by an individual guardian over the age of 18 or a public official who represents minors generally. A policy owner may, in the designation of a beneficiary, appoint someone to act as trustee for a minor. Death benefits are not subject to income taxes. If you make your beneficiary your estate, the death benefit will be included in your assets for probate. Probate filing fees are currently $14 per thousand of estate value in British Columbia and $15 per thousand of estate value in Ontario.
Another way to avoid probate fees or creditor claims against life insurance proceeds is for the insured person to designate and register with his/her insurance company's head office an irrevocable beneficiary. By making such a designation, the insured gives up the right to make any changes to his/her policy without the consent of the irrevocable beneficiary. Because of the seriousness of the implications, an irrevocable designation should only be made for good reason and where the insured fully understands the consequences.
NoteA successful challenge of the rules relating to beneficiaries was concluded in an Ontario court in 1996. The Insurance Act says its provisions relating to beneficiaries are made "notwithstanding the Succession Law Reform Act." There are two relevent provisions of the Succession Law Reform Act. One section of the act gives a judge the power to make any order concerning an estate if the deceased person has failed to provide for a dependant. Another section says money from a life insurance policy can be considered part of the estate if an order is made to support a dependant. In the case in question, the deceased had attempted to deceive his lawful dependents by making his common-law-spouse the beneficiary of an insurance policy which by court order was supposed to name his ex-spouse and children as beneficiaries.
The person designated to receive proceeds entitled by a benefit. Payment of a benefit is triggered by an event.
This is the person designated to receive the death benefit of a life insurance policy if the primary beneficiary dies before the life insured. This is a consideration when husband and wife make each other the beneficiary of their coverage. Should they both die in the same car accident or plane crash, the death benefits would go to each others estate and creditor claims could be made against them. Particularly if minor children could be survivors, then a trustee contingent beneficiary should be named.
The person or party designated to receive proceeds entitled by a benefit. Payment of a benefit is triggered by an event. In the case of credit insurance, the beneficiary will always be the creditor.
Legal designation that cannot be contested. (See beneficiary)
Used in older contracts to confer the same rights as an irrevocable beneficiary. Applied to family members.
The creditor proof status of such things as life insurance, non-registered life insurance investments, life insurance RRSPs and life insurance RRIFs make these attractive products for high net worth individuals, professionals and business owners who may have creditor concerns. Under most circumstances the creditor proof rules of the different provincial insurance acts take priority over the federal bankruptcy rules.
The provincial insurance acts protect life insurance products which have a family class beneficiary. Family class beneficiaries include the spouse, parent, child or grandchild of the life insured, except in Quebec, where creditor protection rules apply to spouse, ascendants and descendants of the insured. Investments sold by other financial institutions do not offer the same security should the holder go bankrupt. There are also circumstances under which the creditor proof protections do not hold for life insurance products. Federal bankruptcy law disallows the protection for any transfers made within one year of bankruptcy. In addition, should it be found that a person shifted money to an insurance company fund in bad faith for the specific purpose of avoiding creditors, these funds will not be creditor proof.
Life insurance payable to the policyholder, if living on the maturity date stated in the policy, or to a beneficiary if the insured dies before that date. For example, some Term to age 100 policies offer the option of taking the face amount of the policy as a cash payout at age 100 if the policyholder is still alive and paying all required income taxes on the amount received or leaving the policy to pay out upon death whereupon the payout is tax free.
This is a very common form of life insurance which is found in employee benefit plans and bank mortgage insurance. In employee benefit plans the form of this insurance is usually one year renewable term insurance. The cost of this coverage is based on the average age of everyone in the group. Therefore a group of young people would have inexpensive rates and an older group would have more expensive rates.
Some people rely on this kind of insurance as their primary coverage forgetting that group life insurance is a condition of employment with their employer. The coverage is not portable and cannot be taken with you if you change jobs. If you have a change in health, you may not qualify for new coverage at your new place of employment.
Bank mortgage insurance is also usually group insurance and you can tell this by virtue of the fact that you only receive a certificate of insurance, and not a complete policy. The only form in which bank mortgage insurance is sold is reducing term insurance, matching the declining mortgage balance. The only beneficiary that can be chosen for this kind of insurance is the bank. In both cases, employee benefit plan group insurance and bank mortgage insurance, the coverage is not guaranteed. This means that coverage can be cancelled by the insurance company underwriting that particular plan, if they are experiencing excessive claims.
In England in the 1700's it was popular to bet on the date of death of certain prominent public figures. Anyone could buy life insurance on another's life, even without their consent. Unfortunately, some died before it was their time, dispatched prematurely in order that the life insurance proceeds could be collected. In 1774, English Parliament passed a law which restricted the right to be a beneficiary on a life insurance contract to those who would suffer an economic loss when the life insured died. The law also provided that a person has an unlimited insurable interest in his own life. It is still a legal stipulation that an insurance contract is not valid unless insurable interest exists at the time the policy is issued. Life Insurance companies will not, however, issue unlimited amounts of coverage to an individual. The amount of life insurance which will be approved has to approximate the loss caused by the death of the individual and must not result in a windfall for the beneficiary.
This is the person covered by the life insurance policy. Upon this person's death, a tax free benefit will be paid to that person's estate or a named beneficiary.
Commonly sold in the form of reducing term life insurance by lending institutions, this is life insurance with a death benefit reducing to zero over a specific period of time, usually 20 to 25 years. In most instances, the cost of coverage remains level, while the death benefit continues to decline. Re-stated, the cost of this kind of insurance is actually increasing since less death benefit is paid as the outstanding mortgage balance decreases while the cost remains the same. Lending institutions are the most popular sources for this kind of coverage because it is usually sold during the purchase of a new mortgage. The untrained institution mortgage sales person often gives the impression that this is the only place mortgage insurance can be purchased but it is more efficiently purchased at a lower cost and with more flexibility, directly from traditional life insurance companies. No matter where it is purchased, the reducing term insurance death benefit reduces over a set period of years. Most consumers are up-sizing their residences, not down-sizing, so it is likely that more coverage is required as years pass, rather than less coverage.
The cost of mortgage lender's insurance group coverage is based on a blended non-smoker/smoker rate, not having any advantage to either male or female. Mortgage lender's group insurance certificate specifies that it [the lender] is the sole beneficiary entitled to receive the death benefit. Mortgage lender's group insurance is not portable and is not guaranteed. Generally speaking, your coverage is void if you do not occupy the house for a period of time, rent the home, fall into arrears on the mortgage, and there are a few others which vary by institution. If, for example, you sell your home and buy another, your current mortgage insurance coverage ends and you will have to qualify for new coverage when you purchase your next home. Maybe you won't be able to qualify. Not being guaranteed means that it is possible for the lending institution's group insurance carrier to cancel all policy holder's coverages if they are experiencing too many death benefit claims.
Mortgage insurance purchased from a life insurance company, is priced, based on gender, smoking status, health and lifestyle of the purchaser. Once obtained, it is a unilateral contract in your favour, which cannot be cancelled by the insurance company unless you say so or unless you stop paying for it. It pays upon the death of the life insured to any "named beneficiary" you choose, tax free. If, instead of reducing term life insurance, you have purchased enough level or increasing life insurance coverage based on your projection of future need, you can buy as many new homes in the future as you want and you won't have to worry about coverage you might loose by renewing or increasing your mortgage.
It is worth mentioning mortgage creditor protection insurance since it is many times mistakenly referred to simply as mortgage insurance. If a home buyer has a limited amount of down payment towards a substantial home purchase price, he/she may qualify for a high ratio mortgage on a home purchase if a lump sum fee is paid for mortgage creditor protection insurance. The only Canadian mortgage lenders currently known to offer this option through the distribution system of banks and trust companies, are General Electric Capital [GE Capital] and Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation [CMHC]. The lump sum fee is mandatory when the mortgage is more than 75% of the value of the property being purchased. The lump sum fee is usually added onto the mortgage. It's important to realize that the only beneficiary of this type of coverage is the morgage lender, which is the bank or trust company through which the buyer arranged their mortgage. If the buyer for some reason defaults on this kind of high ratio mortgage and the value of the property has dropped since being purchased, the mortgage creditor protection insurance makes certain that the bank or trust company gets paid. However, this is not the end of the story, because whatever the difference is, between the disposition value of the property and whatever sum of unpaid mortgage money is outstanding to either GE Capital or CMHC will be the subject of collection procedures against the defaulting home buyer. Therefore, one should conclude that this kind of insurance offers protection only to the bank or trust company and absolutely no protection to the home buyer.
Sometimes called seg funds, segregated funds are the life insurance industry equivalent to a mutual fund with some differences.The term "Mutual Fund" is often used generically, to cover a wide variety of funds where the investment capital from a large number of investors is "pooled" together and invested into specific stocks, bonds, mortgages, etc.
Since Segregated Funds are actually deferred annuity contracts issued by life insurance companies, they offer probate and creditor protection if a preferred beneficiary such as a spouse is named. Mutual Funds don't have this protection.
Unlike mutual funds, segregated funds offer guarantees at maturity (usually 10 years from date of issue) or death on the limit of potential losses - at times up to 100% of original deposits are guaranteed which makes them an attractive alternative for the cautious and/or long term investor. On the other hand, with regular mutual funds, it is possible to have little or nothing left at death or plan maturity.
Historically, damages paid out during settlement of personal physical injury cases were distributed in the form of a lump-sum cash payment to the plaintiff. This windfall was intended to provide for a lifetime of medical and income needs. The claimant or his/her family was then forced into the position of becoming the manager of a large sum of money.
In an effort to create a more financially stable arrangement for the claimant, the Structured Settlement was developed. A Structured Settlement is an alternative to a lump sum cash payment in the resolution of personal physical injury, wrongful death, or workers’ compensation cases. The settlement usually consists of two components: an up-front cash payment to provide for immediate needs and a series of future periodic payments which are funded by the defendant’s purchase of one or more annuity policies. Those payors make payments directly to the claimant. In the unfortunate event of the claimant’s death, a guaranteed portion of the settlement may be directed to a beneficiary or his/her estate.
A Structured Settlement is a guaranteed source of funds paid to the claimant or his/her family on a tax-free basis.
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