Investing 101

How to Gift Stock and Win the Holidays

This holiday season, don’t buy a single gift until you read this. Because my story might change your mind.

I was an investor before I even knew how to invest.

And the first stock I ever owned is up 3,357%.

That’s one hell of a way to kick off a career in finance… but I can’t take all the credit.

Or even some of it.

Shares of this stock were a gift from my great-grandparents, and it’s definitely the best gift I’ve ever received.

If you want to leave the same legacy for your children or grandchildren – and provide them with a solid foundation on which to grow their wealth – here’s a good place to start.

A Prime Present

My great-grandparents had a tradition. Instead of gifting material things or even cutting checks, they bought their great-grandchildren stock.

You see, my great-grandfather, a Russian immigrant, knew the power of hard work.

He knew what it meant to build wealth from nothing.

And he laid a strong financial foundation for our family.

As a kid, I always had my nose in a book. So, naturally, my great-grandparents bought me stock in a small but growing online bookstore…

One that turned into a trillion-dollar e-commerce juggernaut…

Amazon Stock Chart

(My cousin, the tech fanatic, received stock in another promising digital company churning out small devices called iPods.)

My great-grandparents may not have known what their $70.65 investment would turn into… surely not $2,442!

But they knew it would grow into something much more valuable over time.

As an adult, I’m grateful that I received this present over a gift card to the mall or a new item of clothing.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving. And selling some of these shares allowed me to open my own trading account, reduce my mortgage payments, renovate my house and more.

Long after they’re gone, my great-grandparents are still teaching me the importance of making financially sound, forward-looking decisions.

How to Gift Stock

The Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) and Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) allow minors to own assets under a custodian’s control. These accounts can be opened through banks or brokerages by an adult who will maintain the investment on behalf of the minor.

These accounts are easy to set up and do not require the assistance of a lawyer. Unlike with a trust – where you can specify what the funds are used for – the minor gains complete control over the funds upon reaching the age of distribution, which varies by state.

If you already have an investment account with a broker or financial advisor, you’ll likely want to open your custodial account through them.

If not, you’ll want to start by looking online for a broker with no fees and no minimum initial deposit.

Many brokers will offer incentives, so you’ll want to shop around to find the most bang for your buck.

Any income from the account will belong to the minor. However, the custodian is responsible for filing an income tax return on the minor’s behalf. In some cases, a custodian can claim the income from the UGMA or UTMA account. Or they can reinvest the dividends.

No matter what, always consult a tax professional about the best filing options.

You’ll also want to consider what other resources are offered, such as educational materials, mobile tracking and reliable customer service. Remember, your grandchild (or whoever) will be inheriting the broker, as well as the investment.

Lastly, a substantial custodial account balance could affect a minor’s eligibility for financial aid. So make sure to talk to the recipient’s legal guardians before making any decisions.

Some parents might prefer a contribution to a child’s 529 college savings plan. And in this day and age, that’s fairly straightforward.

For example, T. Rowe Price’s 529 accounts come with a dashboard called GoTuition. This creates a public page that the account holder can share with friends and family. From there, gift givers can contribute directly into the account.

The Perfect Pick

If you go the stock-gifting route, try to choose a company or sector in which your grandchild will have a lifelong interest.

Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) was the perfect match for my interests because I was an avid reader. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) was a no-brainer for my cousin with an aptitude for technology.

Beyond that, look for companies with long-term growth potential. This is likely a “set it and forget it” investment, so you’ll want a company with a lot of promise.

If you don’t know where to start, consider Dividend Aristocrats. These are companies that have raised their dividends for at least 25 consecutive years. By using a dividend reinvestment plan, you can increase your holding by purchasing additional shares with the dividends.

So this year, don’t bother with a pricey Peloton bike or the PlayStation 5.

If you really want to give your family members something to cherish when they’re older, jump-start their wealth building with the gift of the free market.

Good investing,

Rebecca

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