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Smart Savers Blog

Why Do I Need to Select a Designated Survivor?


When you open an Invest529 account, you are asked to name a designated survivor. This person automatically assumes ownership of your account in the event of your death.

Anyone can be named as a designated survivor – a spouse, relative, a friend, another child – so long as they’re at least 18 years old and a U.S. resident. Depending on your estate plan, you may choose to name a trust rather than an individual for this role.

While the designated survivor won’t have any access to your Invest529 account while you’re living, they will have full control after your passing. They’ll be able to make withdrawals, change investments, or even change the student on the account. When selecting a designated survivor, consider someone you trust to carry out your educational wishes for your student.

Since relationships or circumstances change, consider reviewing your designated survivor’s information periodically. Designated survivors can be changed at any time. You may also add a successor designated survivor who will own the account if the designated survivor dies before you do.

If a designated survivor is not named, or cannot fulfill the role after your death, Virginia529 may name the student as the new account owner (if they are over 18). If the student is under 18, Virginia529 may set up a custodial account with a custodian who will manage the account in the meantime.

Having a designated survivor is important. Be sure to discuss this decision with the person you choose to ensure your student’s educational future is secure.

Resources to help you learn

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to the most common questions about 529 plans.

Smart Savers Academy

Tune in to a live episode and ask questions of the presenter, or watch a previously recorded webinar below.

Invest529 Portfolio Performance

Review and compare historical returns of Invest529 portfolios.