The Leaders of the Pack: Planned Giving

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    My kids truly "grew up" here - they became the people they are today" - Parent of a summer camper

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    From wolves and moose to the tiniest lichen, the flora and fauna of Wolf Ridge are amazingly diverse.

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    "This is the most beautiful place in Minnesota - my heart is here" - parent chaperone

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    More than 12,000 school age children come to Wolf Ridge for a 3-5 day field trip each year.

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    "I love helping Wolf Ridge live what it teaches through the organic farm and the food we serve." - Chris O'Brien, Wolf Ridge Cook

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    "The environmental leaders of tomorrow learn their craft in the nationally acclaimed Naturalist Training program" - Charles Pavlisich, Naturalist Alumni 2018

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    From experiences in the great outdoors to the very construction of the campus, Wolf Ridge inspires dreamers.

Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center opened shortly after the first Earth Day in 1970. For over 49 years, Wolf Ridge has enriched the lives of thousands of students and adults by teaching the value of taking care of our environment. Wolf Ridge’s longevity has been inspired and sustained by countless individuals who have made gifts of all sizes to benefit the organization and its mission.

The information below offers ideas and resources to help you determine your ideal gift to support environmental education at Wolf Ridge. With your generosity, you can impact programming and environmental education initiatives that will have a lasting impact on taking care of our environment for generations to come. What a great legacy you and your family can help create!

Thank you for considering Wolf Ridge in your planned giving.

A Guide to Making Your Estate Plan

Direct Your Assets to the People and Causes You Care About Most

Making a will or a revocable trust is an important way to extend your love, care, generosity, and gratitude to family and friends. It is also a great way to support the mission of Wolf Ridge. Unfortunately, more than 60% of American adults with children have not created an estate plan.

Creating an estate plan may seem too time consuming or difficult; however, the following information gives some clear answers to some of these questions.

What Happens if You Do Not Have a Will?

If you die without a will, your estate will be divided according to laws in your state of residence. The resulting transfer of your assets may be very different from what you had wished. Certain family members will receive part of your estate, but close friends or charities that you may have wanted to remember will not be included.

What Can You Put in Your Will?

Only you know the special circumstances of your family members and heirs. That is why it is important to discuss these issues with your attorney. Issues to address include how you want to distribute your estate, whom you want to be executor, and what charities you wish to support.

Why Leave Charitable Gifts in Your Estate Plan?

You may want to leave a gift to Wolf Ridge, talk about it with family, friends or Wolf Ridge, and then never get around to properly establishing such gifts in your estate plan. If you make this mistake, your estate will not realize the benefits of the unlimited charitable estate tax deduction, and Wolf Ridge will not receive your support. Without planning, nothing will happen!

Can You Revoke Your Estate Plan?

As long as you have the capacity, you can change or revoke your will, revocable trust, and beneficiary designations on retirement accounts. If situations change, you are free to alter your will with a codicil, trust with an amendment, or to change your entire plan at any time.

We want to work with you to create a gift that fits your circumstances and our needs.

Please email pete.smerud@wolf-ridge.org. or call 218-353-7414, x108 for assistance.


The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor.

How To Make An Impact Now and in the Future

A Gift In Your Estate Plan

Are you interested in helping Wolf Ridge achieve its mission but are not ready to write a check and reduce your assets today? A simple and flexible way to ensure that Wolf Ridge will continue to offer the highest quality environmental education for generations to come is a charitable bequest in your retirement plans, will, or revocable trust.

A charitable bequest is a provision in your beneficiary designation, will, or revocable trust that leaves to Wolf Ridge a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events, or a percentage of your estate.

Retirement Accounts – Most retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and traditional IRAs defer income tax until the assets are withdrawn. Assets are contributed before tax and the tax is deferred until they are withdrawn years later. If retirement assets are left to family, the assets will be subject to estate tax and the family members receiving the assets will have to pay income taxes when they take distributions. If your estate is large enough that it is subject to federal estate taxes, retirement assets to your family could be taxed at up to 75% when factoring in both income and estate taxes. This means your family may get as little as $0.25 on the dollar of retirement assets passing to them. Retirement assets that pass directly to a 501(c)(3) charity, like Wolf Ridge, eliminate both the estate and income tax, so the charity gets 100 cents on the dollar of the assets (tax-free).

How To Fund A Gift

  • Cash
  • Appreciated Securities
  • Real Estate
  • Tangible Personal Property
  • Closely Held Stock
  • Beneficiary Designation on Retirement Assets
  • Beneficiary Designation on Life Insurance Policy

Next Steps

  1. Seek the advice of a financial or legal advisor
  2. Use our legal name and federal tax ID:
  • Legal Name: Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center
  • Address: 6282 Cranberry Road, Finland, MN 55603
  • Federal Tax ID Number: 41-1251705

Ready to join The Leaders of the Pack?

Download and fill out this “Letter of Intent.”

  • Either email your Letter of Intent to pete.smerud@wolf-ridge.org
  • or print and send it to Peter Smerud, Wolf Ridge ELC, 6282 Cranberry Road, Finland, MN 55603


(Download pdf, save to your desktop, fill out, then email it to Peter Smerud at Wolf Ridge.)


The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor.

Have You Notified Your Beneficiaries Of Your Gift?

Naming a loved one or a favorite charity (such as Wolf Ridge) as a beneficiary is a wonderful way of showing your care about the future of the organization. Make sure you go one step further and notify the beneficiaries of the choice you made.

Many charities are not aware that they have been named to receive a gift. Informing the charity helps preserve your intentions and ensures that the organization will be able to follow your wishes.

Protect the charities you love by following these simple steps in naming a beneficiary:

  1. Review your wills, revocable trusts, and beneficiary designations periodically and make changes as circumstances change throughout your lifetime
  2. Alert Wolf Ridge that you have named us as a beneficiary of your estate plans
  3. Make sure that your will properly lists Wolf Ridge as follows:
  • Legal Name: Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center
  • Address: 6982 Cranberry Road, Finland, MN 55603
  • Federal Tax ID Number: 41-1251705

Is Wolf Ridge already in your estate plan?

We would like to add you to the membership list of The Leaders of the Pack. Please us know about your gift.


The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor.

Your Estate Plan: Overhaul vs. Update

One thing you can count on in life is that things change. In fact, the only constant in life is that things are always changing. Therefore, it is important to keep your estate plans up to date.

How do you know if you should update an existing will with a codicil or a revocable trust with an amendment, or if you need to create a whole new estate plan?

Draft a New Estate Plan if:

  • Your marital status has changed.
  • Your children are grown.
  • Your desire to include a beneficiary has changed (death, dispute, etc.)
  • You move to a different state.
  • Your financial situation has changed dramatically.

Update Your Existing Estate Plan if:

  • Your Executor/Trustee situation has changed
  • You wish to support a new charity with a gift
  • You want to make changes to the distribution choices you made earlier.

Review Your Goals

Have your planned giving goals changed? If so, you will need to change your estate plan to reflect your goals.


The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor.


Top Ten Things to Know About Estate Planning

  1. Having a Will does not avoid probate, but that’s okay because a probate proceeding is not that bad in Minnesota.
  2. Utilizing a Revocable Trust can avoid a probate proceeding, help plan for incapacity, and may provide speedier distributions upon death, but it does not provide any tax benefits versus a Will.
  3. Having a Will or a Revocable Trust can help parents plan for children’s physical and financial well-being by using Testamentary Trusts.
  4. A Power of Attorney is very useful to help plan for incapacity and to avoid a guardianship proceeding, but caution should be exercised when choosing the attorney-in-fact.
  5. A Health Care Directive allows an individual to (1) name an agent to make health care decisions and (2) give instructions to that named agent.
  6. Some types of assets, such as Life Insurance, IRAs, 401Ks, and other Retirement Assets, are controlled by beneficiary designations, which means that simply executing a Will or Revocable Trust is not sufficient to complete an estate plan.
  7. In 2018 the Federal Estate Tax Exemption is $11.18 million with a 40% tax rate. In 2018 the Minnesota Estate Tax Exemption is $2.4 million and is scheduled to increase in increments of $200k until it levels off at $3.0 million in 2020. The Minnesota estate tax rate starts at 13% and maxes out at 16%.
  8. Fully utilizing each spouse’s Estate Tax Exemption through Portability is essential to effective estate tax planning.
  9. IRAs, 401Ks, and other Retirement Assets are usually subject to Income Taxes upon withdrawal and estate taxes upon death, which could lead to close to 75% taxation on these assets without proper planning.
  10. Implementing Asset Protection Planning is ethical, essential, and simple to accomplish through estate planning for most families.


The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor.


Would you like to discuss a gift to Wolf Ridge?

Please email pete.smerud@wolf-ridge.org.

(If the link doesn’t open your email program on your device, you might need to copy the address and paste it directly into an email manually.)