Question: Years ago, we bought zero-coupon bonds for our son's college fund. They were timed to mature as he went through college, which has worked out great. They were purchased under the Uniform Gifts to Minors and are held in a custodial account. The last one has recently been called early, which is great because our son is graduating this May. I have just stuck it in a Money market account for now. My question is this: after I pay the last semester's tuition, there will be about $15,000 left. Can my husband and I keep it? Are there tax consequences for us or for our son? (More detail: our son will be entering the Navy's officer training program to be a nuclear engineer and will not be in need of the money. We have another son who's 8--would it make any difference if we keep the money or put it in a 529 for son #2?)

Answer: You did really well by your son. But now it's your son's money. You gave up ownership of the money when you put it into a custodial account. I'm sure he'll find some use for it down the road, like a car loan or a down payment on a home later on. For your other son, a 529 is good way to save for college.

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Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.
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Chris -- While I agree with the technicalities of your answer, you missed an opportunity to suggest a good compromise. How about they ask their older son to put some or all of the money into a 529 for his younger brother so that the younger one can start adult life with the same advantages apparently given the older one. Also, that would let the parents put the diff towards their own retirement, potentially saving both some financial headache later.

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