How to Change the Beneficiary of a 529 Plan

by Kay Lee
    There are plans that allow you to save for college and receive tax benefits.

    There are plans that allow you to save for college and receive tax benefits.

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    A 529 plan is either a pre-paid tuition plan or a savings plan maintained by a state or a school to help defray educational expenses. The laws under which these plans are created promote savings by offering federal or state tax benefits for contributions to the plan. Accounts are to be used to pay for college tuition or the cost of other training after high school for a designated beneficiary. Although anyone can be named as a beneficiary, they are typically children or grandchildren of the individuals who open the account. If the beneficiary does not attend college or receives a full scholarship, you may need to change the beneficiary of the plan. There are no tax consequences if you change the beneficiary to another member of the family.

    Step 1

    Obtain and review a copy of your 529 plan to determine the protocol specific to your broker and plan.

    Step 2

    Call or visit your broker and request a change-of-beneficiary form. Alternatively, you can go to your broker’s website and download the form.

    Step 3

    Complete the change-of-beneficiary form. Provide your account number, your name and Social Security number, and the current beneficiary’s name and Social Security number. Enter the new beneficiary’s name, date of birth, Social Security number and state of residence. You will also need to explain the relationship between the current beneficiary and the new beneficiary.

    Step 4

    Return the change-of-beneficiary form to your broker.

    Tips & Warnings

    • If there is money in a 529 plan that has not been distributed, the 529 plan can be rolled over to another plan either for the benefit of that same beneficiary or for a member of that beneficiary’s family. Changing the beneficiary to a relative of the current beneficiary allows the transfer to be made tax-free.
    • You may only change a beneficiary once a year without incurring tax penalties.

    About the Author

    Kay Lee began freelance writing for Answerbag and eHow in 2010. She is an attorney in Washington, DC, practicing since 2006. Lee specializes in employee benefits and executive compensation. She holds a Juris Doctor from the Columbus School of Law and a Master of Laws from Georgetown University Law Center.

    Photo Credits

    • Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images