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.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.