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I am filling out a life insurance policy form, and it is asking for both primary and contingent beneficiaries AND the percentage amounts for them. It is my understanding that the contingent are payed out only if the primaries are dead.

What percentage should I list for the contingent person when I won't know how many of my primaries would be dead?

In particular, consider the hypothetical form with two primaries and one contingent. I'd list 50% for both primaries, but it is unclear what the contingent should have.

Primary: Person A (50%), Person B (50%)

Contingent: Person C (??%)

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The primary beneficiary percentages should add to 100%. The contingent beneficiary percentages should show the percentage of the failed transfer to the primary beneficiary that goes to the contingent beneficiary (i.e. 100% in your example).

The contingent would be paid if either of the primaries were dead in the way you have set it out. It is usually possible to attach a more clear full explanation of your beneficiary designation if possible. For example, you might say Primary A (50%) and B (50%). Contingent: Survivor of A and B 100%. Second contingent C 100%.

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