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Choosing a Beneficiary: Important Values to Consider

How financially responsible is your beneficiary?

Choosing a beneficiary can leave you bewildered at who to pick. The decision often bring stress to families, especially for those without a clear choice such as a trustworthy spouse or an only child. When making your choice, consider the people in your life and the values that they hold close to their hearts. You want to make sure that your beneficiary would spend any inheritance wisely, adding to his or her own life and that of those you love in wonderful rather than harmful ways.

Know Your Options

You can choose anyone to be your beneficiary. Common choices include a spouse, children or siblings. Also note that you can list a group of individuals to inherit your assets together, or a few separate individual people in order of preference. Naming a few beneficiaries in order of preference ensures someone is listed if your first beneficiary were to predecease you. Here are some values to consider as you make your decision:


Honesty is an important virtue in any friend or family member. When you choose a beneficiary, you want to select someone who is transparent about their financial well-being. Especially if your beneficiary will be managing a trust, make sure that they are truthful with regards to money. Has he or she ever lied to you about anything? If so, was your beneficiary able to apologize and change their ways? Pick a friend or family member who has nothing to hide — and who will always be honest about your estate.


Integrity refers to a strength in morals. Your beneficiary should handle their own finances with integrity, only investing in safe and fair financial practices. Tax evasion, heavy gambling or irresponsible financial choices all indicate that you may want to look for another individual. A large influx of money in unready hands can cause more harm than good.

Generosity + Selflessness

Does your beneficiary donate their time or money to charity? Is he or she the first one to lend a hand to someone in need? Individuals who want their assets to impact their community at large would benefit from considering a beneficiary with a giving heart.

Family and friend dynamics can be complicated, even before you add money and assets into the picture. When in doubt, trust your instincts. The people you value most are in your life for a reason. If you hesitate about choosing a beneficiary, speak to a dear friend or even a counselor for extra clarity.

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