What Happens If One Primary Beneficiary Dies in Pennsylvania?

primary beneficiary

If a primary beneficiary dies, the outcome will depend on the specific circumstances and the type of beneficiary designation involved.

If there is a contingent beneficiary named in the beneficiary designation, the assets or benefits would typically pass to the contingent beneficiary if the primary beneficiary dies. The contingent beneficiary, also known as an alternate beneficiary, is a secondary recipient designated to receive the assets if the primary beneficiary is unable to do so. In some cases, the beneficiary designation may specify that assets pass “per stirpes”. This means that if a primary beneficiary dies, their share is distributed equally among their surviving descendants (usually children) or other heirs.

If there are no designated contingent beneficiaries, the exact outcome will depend on the applicable laws pertaining to the situation, as well as the specific provisions outlined in the relevant legal documents, such as wills, trusts, insurance policies, retirement plans, or other contracts specifying beneficiary designations. We often rely on the laws of intestacy or other provisions outlined in the Pennsylvania probate code when someone does not name direct beneficiaries, which can outline certain protections for family members and their inheritance.

It is best to meet with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney to discuss your specific estate planning and beneficiaries! Set up a free consultation to discuss your estate planning today!


If you have any questions about the topic discussed in this article, or any estate planning matter, please give us a call at Bononi & Company 724-832-2499.


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