5 Steps to Better Protect Your Kids

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One of the most important steps you can take toward providing peace of mind for yourself and security for your children—and their inheritance—is to create or update your will.

Changing your will is relatively easy. You can revoke your current will and have a new one prepared, or you can amend your existing will by creating a codicil. Your attorney can advise you on which option best meets your objectives.

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What is a codicil? A codicil is a legal document written by your estate planning attorney that changes specific provisions in your will but leaves all other provisions unchanged.

Here are five estate planning updates affecting your children that you should make immediately:

  1. Have a guardianship plan. Name a suitable guardian for your minor children in your will. Choose someone who is willing and qualified to take the job and who shares your values and way of life.
  2. Protect what belongs to your children. Make sure your assets and property pass to your children. Spell out in your will the specifics of distributing assets so your children receive what was earmarked for them. Remember, assets aren't only items with financial value. Sentimental items like heirlooms and family photos can be noted in an updated will to pass to your children as well.
  3. Safeguard minor children. If you have minor children, consider placing the assets you want them to inherit in a trust until they are old enough. This prevents court battles if a judge has to name someone as their conservator.
  4. Name a new executor. If your children are of the age of legal majority, you can appoint them as executors, or you can choose a trusted friend or a loved one.
  5. Update beneficiary designations. Life insurance, annuities, retirement benefits and IRAs are usually payable to a named beneficiary and do not pass under the terms of your will. Check these documents to see whether you need to complete new beneficiary designation forms, adding your children's names or a trust for their benefit, to make certain assets are left to your intended heirs. These are also tax-smart vehicles for supporting your favorite charitable organizations, such as Gustavus Adolphus College.
Remember: Life changes. Once you take these steps, make sure to regularly update your wishes as your circumstances change.

Don't Forget Your Favorite Causes When Updating Your Will
In your existing will, you may have made specific gifts of property or assets that you no longer own to charitable organizations like Gustavus. Update your will to reflect these changes so the causes you care about most aren't left out.

Discover the many different ways you can use your will to support the most important people and organizations in your life.

Where to Find Assistance
Your estate planning attorney is the best resource when it comes to updating your plans. If you're interested in supporting Gustavus Adolphus College through your estate plans, we would be happy to work with you and your advisors to find a giving option that works for you. Contact Jackie Peterson at 507-933-7543 or jpeters9@gustavus.edu.