Primary: The individual named in the policy to receive death benefits if living. The primary beneficiary’s right at the time of the insured’s death and owner’s rights end. Policy owner has the right to change beneficiaries at anytime as long as the beneficiary is not irrevocable. Irrevocable beneficiaries must agree to change. If the irrevocable beneficiary dies, the rights return to the policy owner. Death benefits are not subject to income tax and would be protected from creditors of the deceased insured.
Contingent: The contingent beneficiary’s rights start at the time of the insured’s and only if the primary beneficiary is decease or waives their rights to the death benefits. Same protection from income tax and creditors listed under primary beneficiary.
No surviving beneficiaries: In the case where no beneficiaries survive the insured, the death benefits will be paid to estate of the insured. Now creditors have access to the death benefits and challenges by heirs of the insured.