Should an annuitant be assigned owner in owner’s death?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Should an annuitant be assigned owner in owner’s death?

I was named the annuitant on my grandfather’s annuity. It wasn’t a secret to me, it was for me upon his passing. The insurance company, however, refuses to transfer ownership because they say I was not listed as beneficiary. Is that accurate? They’ve released it to his estate and I’m not sure what to do.

Asked on July 26, 2019 under Insurance Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It is correct: an annuitant is not the same thing as a beneficiary--they can be the same person, but they are two different roles, and the person would have to be named specifically as both. (Think of it this way: you can invest in a company and own part of it without working there; you can be an executive without owning any part of; being one does not make you the other automatically, though you could clearly be an owner and an executive.)
An annuitant gets annuities: the annual payments made while the person with the annuity is still alive. The beneficiary gets the proceeds after the person with the annuity passes away. Only a beneficiary gets the investment after the person who had it dies. Since you were not named as beneficiary, you do not get it, and it goes to his estate.

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