Ask Money


Chris Farrell Feb 11, 2008

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.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.