Q&A: How to cash savings bonds for children

Dear Liz: My son is trying to cash in his children’s savings bonds, which seems to be difficult. You used to be able to go to a bank to do that. Is that still possible? If not, how can you do it now?

Answer: If the bonds were electronic, they probably would be held in a special minor’s account at TreasuryDirect.gov, the government site that allows investors to buy and redeem Treasury securities. If your son was identified as the person to have authority over the account, it would be relatively easy for him to redeem them.

We’ll assume, then, that your son is dealing with paper bonds. We’ll further assume that your grandchildren are still minors and that your son is cashing these bonds for their benefit, rather than his own. Many banks are leery of cashing children’s bonds precisely because parents (or people posing as parents) may be trying to rip off their kids.

Parents are allowed to redeem a child’s paper saving bond if the child lives with that parent and is too young to sign the request for payment, according to TreasuryDirect. The parent should write the following on the back of the bond:

“I certify that I am the parent of [child’s name]. [Child’s name] resides with me / I have been granted legal custody of [child’s name]. [She / he] is ___ years old and is not of sufficient understanding to make this request.” Your son should find a bank willing to certify or guaranty his signature. Then, in the presence of the bank representative, he must sign the request with his name “on behalf of [child’s name].”

Then he can send them to Treasury Retail Securities Site, PO Box 214, Minneapolis, MN 55480-0214. If the bonds are electronic, he can log into TreasuryDirect.com and follow the instructions there. Your son can contact the U.S. Treasury at (844) 284-2676 for further details.

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