If you have legal custody of your minor son and he has a Social Security number, you can cash his savings bonds even if he is too young to sign them himself. In many cases, you can bring the bonds to a bank in your area for redemption. If that isn't possible, you can redeem them online or by mail.
United States Savings Bonds are a low-risk security sold by the United States government. While anyone can buy a savings bond, many people give them as gifts to children, as they have a 30 year maturity period. Once a savings bond is 12 months old, you, or your child, can redeem it for cash.
There are three ways to cash a savings bond. The first is to bring the bond to a bank that cashes savings bonds. Many banks offer this service, but it is a good idea to call ahead and ask the bank if it offers this service before making a trip. You do not have to be a customer of the bank to cash bonds, however, if you don't have an account, you will have to prove your identity to the bank by presenting an approved form of identification. If the bond's purchaser bought it online, the bond can likewise be redeemed online at treasurydirect.gov. Finally, if you are unable to redeem the bonds at a local bank, a bank officer can certify your signature on the bond and you can redeem it by mail by sending it to a Treasury Retail Securities Site.
If a child is old enough to sign a bond, bring him to the bank so that he can sign the bond in front of a bank employee. If he is unable to sign the bond, you can cash the bond using your own signature if you are the child's custodial parent. To do this, you should state, in writing on the back of the bond, that you have legal custody of your child and that he is unable to request that the bank cash his bond. If your child's bond does not include your child's Social Security number, you or your child must write the number on the bond. If your child does not yet have a Social Security number, you must obtain one for him before a bank can cash his bonds.
Bank employees are responsible for determining your identity before cashing your bonds. If you hold an account at a bank and the account is at least six months old, the bank can cash the bonds on the basis of your being an established customer. Alternatively, someone who knows you, and who is an established bank customer, can verify your identity to a bank employee, allowing the bank to cash your bonds. If you do not have a bank account and do not know someone who can verify your identity, you can cash savings bonds up to a value of $1000 at a bank by showing an identity document such as a driver’s license, passport or military ID card. In addition, this identification document must include a photograph or and a description of your physical appearance as well as your signature.
- TreasuryDirect: I and EE Savings Bond Comparison
- TreasuryDirect: Redeeming EE/E and I Bonds under Special Circumstances
- TreasuryDirect: Redeem EE/E Bonds and Savings Notes
- TreasuryDirect: Redeem I Savings Bonds
- Bankrate.com; Rules for Cashing in U.S. Savings Bonds; Dorothy Rosen; May 2005
- Bankrate.com; Parents Legally Can Cash Child's Bond; Don Taylor; March 2009
Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.