Helping a Family Member Save for College

Here's how to set up a custodial account or 529 college-savings plan for a niece, nephew or other relative.

My brother and sister-in-law are expecting a baby girl in a few months, and I’d like to set up a custodial account or a 529 college-savings plan for my niece. Can I establish an account for her now, or do I need to wait until she is born? And can I set up a custodial account for her, even though I’m not her parent? What’s the best way to go about this?

Yes, even though you aren’t her parent, you can set up a custodial account or a 529 for your niece, but you’ll have to wait until she is born and has a Social Security number before you can open the account in her name.

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Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.