A custodial IRA is an IRA managed by a parent or guardian for the benefit of a minor child, as long as that child works and has earned income. As with other types of IRAs, the maximum annual contribution for 2015 is $5,500 (indexed annually for inflation) and the underlying investments can be determined by the person managing the account, in this case the parent or guardian, prior to the child reaching majority age. A custodial IRA can be either a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.
Although an adult typically oversees the account, the funds belong to the minor child and must be turned over at the age of majority, which varies depending on the state. IRAs present tax benefits, and opening an account when a child is relatively young may enhance these advantages. As long as the money remains invested, contributions and investment earnings may potentially compound free of taxation. The longer the time period when contributions are made and the money can compound, the greater is the opportunity to build wealth. Required minimum distributions (RMDs) from traditional IRAs, which are taxed as ordinary income, are mandatory after age 70½. For Roth IRAs, RMDs are not required, and the assets could potentially compound for a lifetime. Restrictions, penalties, and taxes may apply. Unless certain criteria are met, Roth IRA owners must be 59½ or older and have held the IRA for five years before tax-free withdrawals are permitted.