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Ensure Your Financial Gifts Are In Good Hands With Proper Planning

As you consider gifting options, ask yourself how you would like financial gifts made to children or other family members to be spent.
As you consider gifting options, ask yourself how you would like financial gifts made to children or other family members to be spent. Photo Credit:

PURCHASE, N.Y. -- Yesterday we discussed gifting amounts and leading by example. This week we conclude by discussing Custodial Accounts, Trusts and 529 Plans.

Custodial Accounts, Trusts and 529 Plans

If the gift recipient is a young child, Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) or Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) custodial accounts may be appropriate choices. With UTMA/UGMAs accounts, the minor owns the funds received as a gift, but the donor may serve as custodian and has complete control of the account until the minor reaches the age of majority (generally 18 or 21depending on the state), at which point the custodian is required under the law to turn the assets over to the former minor. l

For those desiring some lasting control over the gifted money, a trust may be the better choice. Unlike custodial accounts, money held in a trust is not required to be transferred to the beneficiary at a specific age.1 You choose the timing and distribution schedule, for example a lump sum at age 21, or periodic payments over a set number of years.

If you prefer that the money be used to fund longer-term financial goals, offer to fund an individual retirement account or open a 529 college savings plan. 2 Under the special five-year election rule, you can make a lump-sum contribution of $70,000 to a 529 plan in the first year of a five-year period (or $140,000 per married couple). Keep in mind that if you choose that option, you’ll have to avoid giving the recipient any additional annual exclusion gifts during the remainder of the five-year period.

These are just a few suggestions for making thoughtful, satisfying gifts to children. Contact me for help assessing your overall estate and exploring additional gifting and financial education options.


1 Kiplinger, “Ways to Give Money to Children,” updated January 2015.

2 The Wall Street Journal, “Financial Gifts to Adult Children: Strings or No Strings?” January 2, 2015.

Investors should consider many factors before deciding which 529 Plan is appropriate. Some of these factors include: the Plan’s investment options and the historical investment performance of these options, the Plan’s flexibility and features, the reputation and expertise of the Plan’s investment manager, Plan contribution limits and the federal and state tax benefits associated with an investment in the Plan. Some states, for example, offer favorable tax treatment and other benefits to their residents only if they invest in the state’s own Qualified Tuition Program. Investors should determine if their home state offers a 529 Plan that may offer such favorable tax treatment and benefits to residents or beneficiaries of that state that may not be available to investors or beneficiaries of other states. Investors should consult with their tax or legal advisor before investing in any 529 Plan or contact their state tax division for more information. Morgan Stanley does not provide tax and/or legal advice. Individuals should always check with their tax or legal advisor before engaging in any transaction involving 529 Plans, Education Savings Accounts and other tax-advantaged investments. Investments in a 529 Plan are not FDIC-insured, nor are they deposits of or guaranteed by a bank or any other entity, so an individual may lose money. Investors should review a Program Disclosure Statement, which contains more information on investment options, risks factors, fees and expenses and possible tax consequences. Investors should read the Program Disclosure Statement carefully before investing.

If you’d like to learn more, Please contact Julia A. Peloso-Barnes, CFP ® , CPM ® , ADPA ® , CPRC®.

The author(s) and/or publication are neither employees of nor affiliated with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. By providing this third party publication, we are not implying an affiliation, sponsorship, endorsement, approval, investigation, verification or monitoring by Morgan Stanley of any information contained in the publication.

The opinions expressed by the authors are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Morgan Stanley. The information and data in the article or publication has been obtained from sources outside of Morgan Stanley and Morgan Stanley makes no representations or guarantees as to the accuracy or completeness of information or data from sources outside of Morgan Stanley. Neither the information provided nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation by Morgan Stanley with respect to the purchase or sale of any security, investment, strategy or product that may be mentioned.

Article by Wealth Management Systems Inc. and provided courtesy of Julia A. Peloso-Barnes, Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor.

Julia A. Peloso-Barnes may only transact business, follow-up with individualized responses, or render personalized investment advice for compensation, in states where she is registered or excluded or exempted from registration.

© 2016 Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC.

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