What Happens If My Beneficiary Dies Before Me?

Updated: Jun 29


When writing your Will, a lot of care and consideration goes into choosing a beneficiary. Unfortunately, things do not always work out as we plan them. So you might wonder, “What happens if my beneficiary dies before me?” Who will receive the assets I planned to give to my beneficiary? What if I’m not able to designate a new beneficiary—or I simply forget?”


Contingent Beneficiary
Succession laws

Contingent Beneficiary

If you are prepared, you can come up with a backup plan. Naming a contingent beneficiary in your Will who will become the beneficiary if the original beneficiary dies before you do is a good idea.


Even if you are much older than your chosen beneficiary, it is always a good idea to be safe and name an alternate. Otherwise, your heirs will be determined by applicable intestacy laws.

Succession laws

In most common law jurisdictions, the anti-lapse statute comes into play. Under certain

conditions, the assets go to your beneficiary’s descendants.


For instance, if your beneficiary was your son and he passed away, his share goes to his children (assuming he has children). In the absence of such statute, intestate succession will usually kick in (i.e. as if there is no Will). The succession is then usually devolved as follows:

  1. Spouse, no children: the spouse gets everything.

  2. Children, no spouse: divided between the children.

  3. Spouse and children: divided between the spouse and the children.

  4. Spouse and parents, no children: divided between the spouse and the parents.

  5. Parents, no spouse, no children: divided between the parents.

  6. Siblings only: divided between them.

  7. Grandparents only: divided between them.

  8. Uncles and aunts only: divided between them

  9. None of the above: the state.

As always, we recommend for you to update your Will and register it. Be prepared for the curveballs life can throw at us. The plan the state has set about and described above may not be what you want to happen.

Take the initiative and have your own back-up plan. Do not assume you will die before your chosen beneficiary; prepare for the worst and designate an alternate beneficiary.


Writing your Will is the very first step, and it’s an important one. But that’s not enough. In the digital age, the next step is to store your Will online. Otherwise, what happens if your person of confidence is not able to find your Will in a timely manner? liteWill is the only Will registration platform that is available globally and that provides the option to store your Will online. ‘A Will that is not online is like a Will that does not exist’.


This portion of the website is for information only. The statements and opinions are the expression of their author, not of liteWill, and have not been evaluated for accuracy, completeness or changes in the law. Information contained in this article is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.

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