A life insurance beneficiary is a person or party named in a life insurance policy to get the death benefit, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Policyholders can designate one or more people as beneficiaries. Beneficiaries can also be the trustees of a trust established by the policyholders.
A charity and an estate can also be named as beneficiaries, says the Insurance Information Institute. If a policyholder dies without naming a beneficiary, his estate receives the death benefit from the policy. A primary beneficiary receives the benefit if he is found; contingent beneficiaries get the benefit if primary beneficiaries cannot be located.