Guardianship of the Property of a Minor
Guardianship courts always seek the least restrictive alternative to plenary guardianship, so there are instances where only guardianship of the property is required. For example, if a minor is to receive property in excess of $15,000 in value, then a guardian of the property will be required to protect that minor’s property even though a natural guardian of the person, typically a parent, is alive. The funds typically come from an estate inheritance or legal settlement.
Many parents choose to leave property to their children, while others may give their children certain property while they are still living. Children may also have an interest in property as a result of a trust set up by one or both of their parents. Often, complications arise out of a minor owning real or personal property or having some other property interest transferred to him or her, such as having to pay property taxes on real estate. A child might also be a party to a tort law suit, without legal capacity to accept a settlement.
In these circumstances, the natural guardian will have to assist the child. When the aggregate sum of the property does not exceed $15,000, the natural guardian of a minor may “(a) settle and consummate a settlement of any claim or cause of action accruing to any of their minor children for damages to the person or property of any minor children; (b) collect, receive, manage, and dispose of the proceeds of any settlement; (c) collect, receive, manage, and dispose of any real or personal property distributed from an estate or trust; (d) collect, receive, manage, and dispose of and make elections regarding the proceeds from a life insurance policy or annuity contract payable to, or otherwise accruing to, the benefit of the child; and (e) collect, receive, manage, dispose of, and make elections regarding the proceeds of any benefit plan . . . of which the minor is a beneficiary, participant, or owner.” § 744.301(2), Florida Statutes.
However, when the amount of the property exceeds $15,000, the rights of the natural guardians are limited and subject to review and permission of a court. Until the minor reaches the legal age of majority, they are under a type of “disability” because they lack the capacity to enter into binding contracts. Fla. Stat. 518.11 requires the exercise of reasonable care and caution and is to be applied to investments in the context of the entire investment portfolio as part of an overall investment strategy that should incorporate risk and return objectives. Once the minor reaches the age of majority, the court action needs to be closed, and the property distributed to the minor.
Please feel free to contact Shalloway and Shalloway, P.A. for a consultation.