A beneficiary is a person the policyowner selects to receives the benefits from an insurance policy.

  • defined under the provincial Insurance Act
  • cannot be the policyowner [find out why]

Note: The beneficiary is not a legal party to the insurance contract

Naming a beneficiary can provide protection from the creditors of the policyowner.

The beneficiary can be

  1. named under a policy or through a declaration, or
  2. of the estate of the policyowner
    • rights come from a Will, court order or provincial statute other than the provincial Insurance Act

A beneficiary under the age of majority is represented by a legal individual guardian or a public official who represents minors generally.

You (as the policyowner) can appoint a trustee as the beneficiary, e.g. for

  • a minor or disabled child
  • a spendthrift beneficiary (not financially prudent)

Valid Beneficiaries

The beneficiary can be

  1. a person or persons
  2. a class of people (e.g., children)
  3. a business
  4. a trustee
  5. a minor
  6. your estate

Specifying the Beneficiary


The policyowner can designate a beneficiary in

  • the insurance application
  • a subsequent declaration

Note: if the spouse of the policyowner is a beneficiary, divorce has no effect on the designation. So the beneficiary can be changed, if irrevocable beneficiary.


The policyowner can sign a declaration in a separate instrument stating the intention to make, alter, revoke a designation made in a policy

  • e.g., in a Will or trust agreement

It's best to inform the insurer of the declaration, but there is no requirement

  • else the insurer could pay the death benefit to an unintended party [what is the insurer's liability then?]

Using a Will

If the beneficiary declaration is in a Will

  • show the policy number and insurer
  • say the declaration is being made under the provincial Insurance Act
  • even if a Will is invalid, the insurance declaration remains valid
    • use a separate clause. just in case

Note that the declaration takes place from the date the Will is signed by the testator (not as of the date of death).

An irrevocable beneficiary cannot be set in a Will because a Will must be revocable

Since a Will must be revocable, the beneficiary designation is also revocable. If the will is revoked

  • the beneficiary designation is also revoked —> death benefit goes to the policyowner or policyowner's estate
    • so make a new declaration as soon as possible

Other Types of Beneficiaries

You have many options in setting beneficiaries

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