When to Transfer Ownership of a Custodial Account

Before your child turns 18, you should check with your broker about the account's age of majority and termination.

A son celebrating his 18th birthday with his parents
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Question: My son is turning 18 this year. Do I need to contact my brokerage firm to transfer ownership of his custodial accounts to him? - M.L., Villanova, Pa.

Answer: The rules vary by state and account. There are two key ages: the age of majority (often 18) and the age of termination on the account (usually 21), says John Woerth, of Vanguard. When children reach the age of majority, the account can be transferred into their name only with custodian consent. Otherwise, they can remove the custodian from the account at the age of termination. Ask your brokerage firm what ages apply to your son’s accounts and the steps you need to take at each point.

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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.