UGMA'S & UTMA'S
UGMA- UNIFORM GIFTS TO MINORS ACT: These are custodial accounts that parents
can establish for a minor. The account is managed by a custodian who should
not be parent- otherwise the income will be taxed to parent. Investments
are usually restricted by state to life insurance, cash and certificates
of deposit. Gifts may be given to the trust under the $10,000 per person
per year exclusion- even to the use of life insurance.
The major reason that parents do not utilize this form more often is the fact that the child has the right to the assets at the age of majority (varies from state to state from age 18 to 21- Delaware and New York allow the custodianship to last to age 21). If the child has not turned out "properly", too bad. It is their money to do with as they desire.
Another drawback is that unearned income over $1,300 per year is still subject to the Kiddie Tax Rules.
UTMA- Uniform Transfer to Minors Act: Essentially the same as above except
that the UTMA allows a greater use of various investments- mutual funds,
partnerships, bonds, stocks, etc. The UTMA may receive assets from a testamentary
transfer and get a full step up in basis upon death. It is also subject to
the Kiddie Tax Rules.
SPECIAL NOTE: In cases where the funds are actually turned over to the child,
the actually savings throughout the years could backfire when, under financial
aid formulas, the student may be required to contribute 35% of savings while
the parents percentage as required by the colleges might be only 6%. The
effects on income are the same- colleges look to reach 70% of a student's
income while only 47% of the parents income. So all the machinations
of trying to make that extra bit of savings by using all the special rules
of UTMA's, etc. and transferring assets into the lower tax bracket of the
child may be lost in the first year when the college take a much larger large
amount of a students assets. In essence therefore, UGMA's and UTMA's
can end up COSTING the parent extra money.
Of course, if the parent/student will pay for all costs- there being no aid being sought- the above strategies are still valid where applicable. Only if a truly irrevocable trust is used might there be avoidance of this problem.