Education savings plans were originally created in the 1980s by various states as a way for students to attain the financial means required for a college education. These plans are still implemented at a state level and are either prepaid tuition or tax-advantaged savings accounts that can be applied to qualified education expenses.
According to the National Association of State Treasurers, more than 12 million families have saved more than $258 billion in these plans over the last 40 years.
While the primary purpose of these accounts has always been to make a college education feasible from a financial standpoint, they should also be considered a valuable estate planning tool. In light of the current tax treatment of these accounts, they may provide a flexible means for parents, grandparents or other family members to transfer assets to a younger generation.