Ask Terry Questions Inheritance for a minor

Inheritance for a minor

By Terry Savage on January 21, 2023 | Wild Card

My mother passed away in May and left my 15 year old son $35,000. His father passed away when he was a baby. His grandparents just gave me bonds that have matured that belonged to my son’s father. In total, there’s about $45,000. What is a smart way to handle that amount of money? If he decides to go to college, will it effect his FAFSA? If so, what do we do so it has the least impact on that?

Terry Says

Well, this is the time to consult the estate planning attorney that created your mother’s will. If she “left” it to your son, it should have been left inside some kind of trust or custodial account.
Now, I don’t now how your mother’s estate was worded, but a minor cannot own these assets that were “left” to him. Ask the lawyer if they were left in some sort of trust, or whether you can open a “custodial account” for your son. Even better, if she died recently, ask the probate lawyer if the money can be directly deposited into a 529 College Savings Plan, which will have much less impact on financial aid. Or whether it can be distributed to you as “custodians” for your minor child, and then immediately deposited into a 529 plan.
You definitely can’t open an account in the child’s name alone — and custodial accounts do weigh 7x more heavily against the family in the aid formula.

The savings bonds are a different case:
The savings bonds actually belong to the estate of the father, long deceased. In order to cash them, you’ll need a death certificate and his estate plan, since they were in the father’s name. (If you’ll write to me by responding to the email that announces this post, and give me more specific details, I’ll pass it on to my contact at Treasury. Include your phone number and I’ll try to get you someone who can help you through this.



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