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Definition of Contingent Beneficiary

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Contingent Beneficiary

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.



Related Terms:

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.


Contingent Owner

This is the person designated to become the new owner of a life insurance policy if the original owner dies before the life insured.


Beneficiary

The person designated to receive proceeds entitled by a benefit. Payment of a benefit is triggered by an event.


Beneficiary (Credit Insurance)

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.


Irrevocable Beneficiary

Legal designation that cannot be contested. (See beneficiary)



Preferred Beneficiary

Used in older contracts to confer the same rights as an irrevocable beneficiary. Applied to family members.


Owner

This is the person who owns the insurance policy. It is usually the same person as the insured but it could be someone else who has the permission of the insured to be the owner, like a spouse, a common-law-spouse, an offspring, a parent, a corporation with insurable interest or a business partner with insurable interest. In order for someone else to be an owner of your policy, they have to have a legitimate insurable interest in you.


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Policyowner

The person who owns and holds all rights under the policy, including the power to name and change beneficiaries, make a policy loan, assign the policy to a financial institution as collateral for a loan, withdraw funds or surrender the policy.


Deed (Certificate of Ownership)

The document signed by the seller transferring ownership of the home to the purchaser. This document is then registered against the title to the property as evidence of the purchaser's ownership of the property.


Buy/Sell Agreement

This is an agreement entered into by the owners of a business to define the conditions under which the interests of each shareholder will be bought and sold. The agreement sets the value of each shareholders interest and stipulates what happens when one of the owners wishes to dispose of his/her interest during his/her lifetime as well as disposal of interest upon death or disability. Life insurance, critical illness coverage and disability insurance are major considerations to help fund this type of agreement.


Cash Surrender Value

This is the amount available to the owner of a life insurance policy upon voluntary termination of the policy before it becomes payable by the death of the life insured. This does not apply to term insurance but only to those policies which have reduced paid up values and cash surrender values. A cash surrender in lieu of death benefit usually has tax implications.


Creditor Proof Protection

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.


Deemed Disposition

Under certain circumstances, taxation rules assume that a transfer of property has occurred, even though there has not been an actual purchase or sale. This could happen upon death or transfer of ownership.


Dividend

As the term dividend relates to a corporation's earnings, a dividend is an amount paid per share from a corporation's after tax profits. Depending on the type of share, it may or may not have the right to earn any dividends and corporations may reduce or even suspend dividend payments if they are not doing well. Some dividends are paid in the form of additional shares of the corporation. Dividends paid by Canadian corporations qualify for the dividend tax credit and are taxed at lower rates than other income.
As the term dividend relates to a life insurance policy, it means that if that policy is "participating", the policy owner is entitled to participate in an equitable distribution of the surplus earnings of the insurance company which issued the policy. Surpluses arise primarily from three sources:
1) the difference between anticipated and actual operating expenses,
2) the difference between anticipated and actual claims experience, and
3) interest earned on investments over and above the rate required to maintain policy reserves. Having regard to the source of the surplus, the "dividend" so paid can be considered, in part at least, as a refund of part of the premium paid by the policy owner.
Life insurance policy owners of participating policies usually have four and sometimes five dividend options from which to choose:
1) take the dividend in cash,
2) apply the dividend to reduce current premiums,
3) leave the dividends on deposit with the insurance company to accumulate at interest like a savings plan,
4) use the dividends to purchase paid-up whole life insurance to mature at the same time as the original policy,
5) use the dividends to purchase one year term insurance equal to the guaranteed cash value at the end of the policy year, with any portion of the dividend not required for this purpose being applied under one of the other dividend options.
NOTE: It is suggested here that if you have a participating whole life policy and at the time of purchase received a "dividend projection" of incredible future savings, ask for a current projection. Life insurance company's surpluses are not what they used to be.


Grace Period

A specific period of time after a premium payment is due during which the policy owner may make a payment, and during which, the protection of the policy continues. The grace period usually ends in 30 days.


Insured Retirement Plan

This is a recently coined phrase describing the concept of using Universal Life Insurance to tax shelter earnings which can be used to generate tax-free income in retirement. The concept has been described by some as "the most effective tax-neutralization strategy that exists in Canada today."
In addition to life insurance, a Universal Life Policy includes a tax-sheltered cash value fund that cannot exceed the policy's face value. Deposits made into the policy are partially used to fund the life insurance and partially grow tax sheltered inside the policy. It should be pointed out that in order for this to work, you must make deposits into this kind of policy well in excess of the cost of the underlying insurance. Investment of the cash value inside the policy are commonly mutual fund type investments. Upon retirement, the policy owner can draw on the accumulated capital in his/her policy by using the policy as collateral for a series of demand loans at the bank. The loans are structured so the sum of money borrowed plus interest never exceeds 75% of the accumulated investment account. The loans are only repaid with the tax free death benefit at the death of the policy holder. Any remaining funds are paid out tax free to named beneficiaries.
Recognizing the value to policy holders of this use of Universal Life Insurance, insurance companies are reworking features of their products to allow the policy holder to ask to have the relationship of insurance to investment growth tracked so that investment growth inside the policy may be maximized. The only potential downside of this strategy is the possibility of the government changing the tax rules to prohibit using a life insurance product in this manner.


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Lapse

This refers to the termination of an insurance policy due to the owner of the policy failing to pay the premium within the grace period [Usually within 30 days after the last regular premium was required and not paid]. It is possible to re-instate the coverage with the same premium and benefits intact but the life insured will have to qualify for this coverage all over again and bring up to date all unpaid premiums.


Lapse subsidized

This refers to the practice of some life insurance companies to offer policies which are lower in price because they have assumed a high probability that the policies will be cashed in by their owners for one reason or another before the death benefit becomes available. It is a bold and risky offer by the insurance company because sometimes the purchasers of these policies simply don't lapse them.



Registered Pension Plan

Commonly referred to as an RPP this is a tax sheltered employee group plan approved by Federal and Provincial governments allowing employees to have deductions made directly from their wages by their employer with a resulting reduction of income taxes at source. These plans are easy to implement but difficult to dissolve should the group have a change of heart. Employer contributions are usually a percentage of the employee's salary, typically from 3% to 5%, with a maximum of the lessor of 20% or $3,500 per annum. The employee has the same right of contribution. Vesting is generally set at 2 years, which means that the employee has right of ownership of both his/her and his/her employers contributions to the plan after 2 years. It also means that all contributions are locked in after 2 years and cannot be cashed in for use by the employee in a low income year. Should the employee change jobs, these funds can only be transferred to the RPP of a new employer or the funds can be transferred to an individual RRSP (or any number of RRSPs) but in either scenario, the funds are locked in and cannot be accessed until at least age 60. The only choices available to access locked in RPP funds after age 60 are the conversion to a Life Income Fund or a Unisex Annuity.
To further define an RPP, Registered Pension Plans take two forms; Defined Benefit or Defined Contribution (also known as money purchase plans). The Defined Benefit plan establishes the amount of money in advance that is to be paid out at retirement based usually on number of years of employee service and various formulae involving percentages of average employee earnings. The Defined Benefit plan is subject to constant government scrutiny to make certain that sufficient contributions are being made to provide for the predetermined pension payout. On the other hand, the Defined Contribution plan is considerably easier to manage. The employer simply determines the percentage to be contributed within the prescribed limits. Whatever amount has grown in the employee's reserve by retirement determines how much the pension payout will be by virtue of the amount of LIF or Annuity payout it will purchase.
The most simple group RRSP plan is a group billed RRSP. This means that each employee has his own RRSP plan and the employer deducts the contributions directly from the employee's wages and sends them directly to the RRSP plan administrator. Regular RRSP rules apply in that maximum contribution in the current year is the lessor of 18% or $13,500. Generally, to encourage this kind of plan, the employer also agrees to make a regular contribution to the employee's plans, knowing full well that any contributions made immediately belong to the employee. Should the employee change jobs, he/she can take their plan with them and continue making contributions or cash it in and pay tax in the year in which the money is taken into income.


Viatical Settlement

A dictionary meaning for the word viatica is "the eucharist as given to a dying person or to one in danger of death". In the context of Viatical Settlement it means the selling of one's own life insurance policy to another in exchange for an immediate percentage of the death benefit. The person or in many cases, group of persons buying the rights to the policy have high expectation of the imminent death of the previous owner. The sooner the death of the previous owner, the higher the profit. Consumer knowledge about this subject is poor and little is known about the entities that fund the companies that purchase policies. People should be very careful when considering the sale of their policy, and they should remember a sale of their life insurance means some group of strangers now owns a contract on their life. If a senior finds it difficult to pay for an insurance policy it might be a better choice to request that current beneficiaries take over the burden of paying the premium. The practice selling personal life insurance policies common in the United States and is spilling over into Canada. It would appear to have a definite conflict with Canada's historical view of 'insurable interest'.


Cash Surrender Value

Benefit that entitles a policy owner to an amount of money upon cancellation of a policy.


Equity investment

Through equity investment, investors gain part ownership of the corporation. The primary type of equity investment is corporate stock.


Lease (Credit Insurance)

Contract granting use of real estate, equipment or other fixed assets for a specified period of time in exchange for payment. The owner or a leased property is the lessor and the user the lessee.


Non-participating Policy

A type of insurance policy or annuity in which the owner does not receive dividends.


Paid-Up Additions

A type of insurance policy or annuity in which the owner receives dividends, typically increases the death.


Policy

A written document that serves as evidence of insurance coverage and contains pertinent information about the benefits, coverage and owner, as well as its associated directives and obligations.


Premium Mode

Payment schedule of policy premiums, usually selected by the policy owner (monthly, quarterly, annually).


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Surrender Charge

Expense charges applied when the owner of a policy surrenders a policy for its cash value.



Closing Date

The date on which the sale of a property becomes final and the new owner usually takes possession.


Equity

The interest of the owner in a property over and above all claims against the property. It is usually the difference between the market value of the property and any outstanding encumbrances.


Foreclosure

A legal procedure whereby the lender eventually obtains ownership of the property after the borrower has defaulted on payments.


Closing

The meeting at which the sale of a property is finalized. The buyer signs the lender agreement for the mortgage and pays closing costs and escrow amounts. The buyer and seller sign documents to transfer ownership of the property. Also known as the settlement.


Equity

The value of a homeowner's unencumbered interest in real estate. Equity is the difference between the home's fair market value and the unpaid balance of the mortgage and any outstanding liens. Equity increases as the mortgage is paid down or as the property appreciates.


HOA

Homeowners association.


Title insurance

Insurance that protects against loss from disputes over ownership of a property. A policy may protect the mortgage lender, the home buyer, or both.


Back Charge

Billings for work performed or costs incurred by one party that, in accordance with the agreement, should have been performed or incurred by the party to whom billed. owners bill back charges to general contractors, and general contractors bill back charges to subcontractors. Examples of back charges include charges for cleanup work or to repair something damaged by another subcontractor, such as a tub chip or broken window.



 

 

 

 

 

 

Related to : home, mortgage, insurance, homebuyer, real estate, property, buy home, home insurance, financing, home financing, home buyer, first time homebuyer, homes, homebuying, credit, condo.


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