How to change beneficiary on life insurance

For changing beneficiary on life insurance, all you need to do is call your agent or life insurance company and tell them you would like to change the beneficiary. They’ll provide you with the proper steps, which usually involve filling out a form either online or in writing, to change the beneficiary.

“Typically it’s as easy as calling your agent if you have a local one,” Colin Desnoyers, an agent with the Moore Agencies of New England, says. “Companies now will usually have a web portal that clients can use where they can change some information like that.”

Can you change the beneficiary at any time?

Yes. There is no specific time when you can change the beneficiary. You can change it the day after your policy goes into effect or you can change it 10 years later. There is no mandatory waiting period or limitation.

When can a policyholder change a revocable beneficiary?

There are both revocable and irrevocable beneficiaries. A revocable beneficiary is one you can change. An irrevocable beneficiary cannot be changed by the policyholder alone once it is locked in. The only way an irrevocable beneficiary can be removed from a policy is for that beneficiary to agree to forfeit their rights to any money.

Desnoyers says that while changing the beneficiary is easy, many people should think beyond who gets the money to ensuring the money is used as intended.

“A lot of people really put a lot of stock in [the beneficiary], but at the end of the day, a beneficiary is who we’re releasing the money to,” Desnoyers says. “A lot of families think ‘well, we’ve established a beneficiary so that’s where the money’s going to get and it’ll stay there.’ A lot of the times they don’t have the other tools other than just a named beneficiary, like a last will and testament or other things to make sure the money is handled correctly.”

Who can change the beneficiary on a life insurance policy?

The only person who can change the beneficiary is the policyholder. The policyholder is the person who has their name on the life insurance plan. There should only be one policyholder per plan.

Who can be a life insurance beneficiary?

You can name anyone you like as your beneficiary, although there are some state laws that may apply to spouses. Beyond individual people, charities, trusts, and an estate can also be the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. You can also have multiple beneficiaries on your policy.

For example, if you have two children you can name both as beneficiaries and they would each get half of the assets when they are released after your death. It's important to note that naming minor children as beneficiaries can create legal headaches; it's best to name an adult or a trust.

Life insurance FAQs

Can a life insurance beneficiary be changed after death?

No. Once you have passed away the policy will pay out to the beneficiaries your life insurance company has on file.

Can you change your life insurance beneficiary during a divorce?

Yes, if you are the sole owner of the policy you can change the beneficiary at any time even during a divorce. However, there are certain restrictions to that. If you were to put an ex-spouse as the beneficiary during the divorce proceedings, they will be automatically revoked as a beneficiary once the marriage is formally dissolved. Check your state laws to see what you can do.

Can your spouse change the beneficiary on your life insurance policy?

Yes, if they own the policy. Only the policy owner can change the beneficiary. If your spouse took out a policy on you, then they are the owner and can change the beneficiary.