I received and email recently with a transaction confirmation notice for my child's Vanguard 529 account. I hadn't made any recent deposits, so I logged in to see what was up--maybe the investments were re-balanced. The confirmation was for a gift contribution, and when I checked out the details on it, the name associated with the contribution was nobody I knew. I called Vanguard education savings support, and after their investigation (which took about 5 minutes) it was determined that the money was placed in my account by accident. They'll take it out and put it where it belongs.
So why call? Free money, right? First and foremost, it's the right thing to do. Also Vanguard would (probably?) have noticed at some point anyways. Another important reason to call is so Vanguard can note what went wrong in the process and can alter their system to not allow this to happen in the first place. The ability to make gift contributions to 529 accounts (Ugift) seemingly invites errors to go unnoticed. For example, say the person who made this gift contribution didn't tell the recipient (or their guardian) about it. When the money didn't show up in their account, they would have been none the wiser. As far as I know, all the contributor knows is that the money was withdrawn from their account, so it must have been processed correctly.
In sum, check your transaction confirmations, and maybe let people know when you make gift contributions so they can be on the lookout for it.
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