Keeping that college fund secure near the goal line

Q. Years ago I invested in a growth mutual fund (Janus 20) in my daughter's name with me as custodian. This money is intended for her college expense. Since she'll be starting college in the fall of 2000, should I consider moving to a more conservative investment such as an index fund or cash? What are the tax consequences? I presume I would pay at my daughter's tax rate. S.K., Fort Collins, Colo.

A "Congratulations on your long-range planning, since the Janus 20 fund has done very well," says Gary Schatsky, an attorney and financial planner in New York. Earnings would be taxed at the child's tax rate, he says, which will presumably be fairly low. "Your inclination is also correct in wanting to switch to a more conservative investment as you get closer to her schooling. If you sell the fund, put the proceeds into a short-term bond fund paying over 6 percent, or a money-market fund paying around 5 percent," Schatsky recommends.

Q. A relative, who passed on recently, left a number of US savings bonds. But we think he may have had several more, which we can't locate. How can we track them down? A.L., Everett, Wash.

A. Write to Bureau of Public Debt, P.O. Box 1328, Parkersburg, W.Va., 26106-1328. "Include as much information on the person as you can," says an official at the US Treasury. Include his social security number, when you think he bought the bonds, and any other names that may have been included as a co-owner or beneficiary. The bureau can also track bonds that a living person may have lost.

Q. What does it cost to have a simple will changed? Does it cost less to have only a part changed, as opposed to the whole will? D.O., via e-mail

A. "Costs vary locally, depending on the complexity of your estate and will," says Jane Nosbisch, of the American Bar Association's division of legal services, Chicago. There are networks of state and local lawyer referral and information programs that can help you decide on the nature of any changes you might want to make, and subsequent costs. Call your local bar association for a referral (see your Yellow Pages) or ring up the ABA's Web site at

Questions about finances? Write: Guy Halverson The Christian Science Monitor 500 Fifth Ave., Suite 1845 New York, NY 10110 E-mail:

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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