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Savings-Bonds-Alert: Dealing with the death of a child

Friday, November 26, 2004

Dealing with the death of a child

We recently lost our daughter in a automobile accident. She was 19 with a four-month old daughter that we are now raising. I had bought savings bonds for her education and would like to know how I can transfer the bonds into her daughter's name? What is the time frame to do this and what tax issues am I faced with? Most of the bonds have me as the co-owner but a few only have her name on them. I would very much appreciate some advice on what to do. Tom's response I can't imagine anything more painful than losing a child. I was at a play here in New York earlier this week in which one of the characters had lost a child many years earlier. The character quoted the following line from Shakespeare's King John: Grief fills the room up of my absent child, Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me, Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words, Remembers me of all his gracious parts, Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form; Then, have I reason to be fond of grief? As for the bonds, to get the education deduction, they have to be in your name. If there is a co-owner, it has to be your spouse. On the ones where you are the co-owner, you should have the registration changed to your name. You can make your wife the co-owner or your granddaughter the beneficiary, but don't make your granddaughter the co-owner if you want to try for the education deduction. You can take the deduction on any dependent, so it doesn't matter that she's your granddaughter and not your daughter. However, there are significant limitations on this deduction in other areas. One of the best ways to use it is to fund a 529 college education plan. Click here for more information on the savings bond education deduction. As for the bonds that were in your daughter's name without a co-owner or beneficiary, they are now part of her estate. You will need to talk to a lawyer to figure out what your states's laws require in terms of the probate court process. Click here for information on the forms you need to get all of the savings bonds re-registered. If circumstances end up with some of the bonds registered in your granddaughter's name, she won't be able to take the education deduction. However, you can probably work with her after she's 14 years old to gradually cash them in at her tax rate, which should be minimal. Click here for more information about when to avoid tax-deferral.


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