FAQs About Beneficiary Designations

Who can I name as a beneficiary?
You can name any person (spouse or other individual), organization/entity, trust or estate.

What is the difference between a primary and contingent beneficiary?
A primary beneficiary receives the proceeds of your account in the event of your death. Most married account holders name their spouse as their primary beneficiary. If you name several primary beneficiaries and one dies before you, then that share is divided equally among the surviving primary beneficiaries (unless you indicate otherwise). If none of your primary beneficiaries survive you, then the share goes to the contingent beneficiary. A contingent beneficiary is an alternate person, organization/entity, trust or estate who receives the specified share of your account if none of your primary beneficiaries survive you.

What are my beneficiary designation options?
Beneficiary Options

Do I have to name a contingent beneficiary?
No. Note that your contingent beneficiary only receives the proceeds of your account if you have no surviving primary beneficiaries at the time of your death.

How many beneficiaries can I name?
You can designate up to 99 primary and 99 contingent beneficiaries for each plan type.

Can a minor be named a beneficiary?
Yes, but at the time of your death, if any of the named beneficiaries is a minor, a guardian must manage the account until the beneficiary reaches the age of majority (typically age 18 or 21 depending on state law). For specific legal implications regarding beneficiary designations, contact your legal advisor. Your right to designate a beneficiary is subject to applicable state law.

What if I live in a community property state?
If you live in a community property state (AZ, CA, ID, LA, NM, NV, TX, WA or WI) and you do not designate your spouse as your sole primary beneficiary, your spouse must sign the appropriate section of the either the Account Application or Change of Beneficiary form.

What happens to my account if I do not name a beneficiary?
If you do not designate a beneficiary or all of your primary and contingent beneficiaries predecease you, your surviving spouse becomes your beneficiary if you are married at the time of your death. If you do not have a surviving spouse, payment of your account is made to your estate.

What happens after I pass away?
Upon your death, your beneficiaries or the person handling your estate should call OppenheimerFunds and speak with Customer Service for instructions and assistance. We will not contact your beneficiaries.

How does marital status affect my account?
A change in marital status may impact your estate planning if you do not update your beneficiary designations. You may want to consult your legal advisor for clarification.

What happens to a Coverdell account I opened?
A Coverdell account is established for a designated beneficiary’s educational expenses. You, the “Grantor” (the person who established the account, e.g., grandparent) can state on the application that you allow the “Responsible Individual” (usually a parent) to designate a “death beneficiary” (e.g. a child other than the one named as the beneficiary). If the designated beneficiary (e.g., Child 1) should die before age 30, the assets will be distributed to the death beneficiary (e.g., Child 2). In the event that no death beneficiary is named, the assets will be distributed to the designated beneficiary’s estate.


Shares of Oppenheimer funds are not deposits or obligations of any bank, are not guaranteed by any bank, are not insured by the FDIC or any other agency, and involve investment risks, including the possible loss of the principal amount invested.

Before investing in any of the Oppenheimer funds, investors should carefully consider a fund's investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. Fund prospectuses and summary prospectuses contain this and other information about the funds, and may be obtained by asking your financial advisor, visiting oppenheimerfunds.com, or calling 1.800.CALL OPP (225.5677). Read prospectuses and summary prospectuses carefully before investing.

Oppenheimer funds are distributed by OppenheimerFunds Distributor, Inc.
Two World Financial Center, 225 Liberty Street, New York, NY 10281-1008