In their wills, many parents choose to leave property to their children. 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. But, what if these children are still minors? Is it legal for a parent or natural guardian to transfer property to minors? Who is authorized to make decisions with regard to that property? Can the minors themselves make decisions to alter or sell the property?
Generally, “[t]he fact that a person is a minor does not prevent him from acquiring and holding title to property.” Watkins v. Watkins, 123 Fla. 267 (1936). However, complications often 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. In this circumstance, the natural guardian of the child will have to assist the child. When the aggregate sum of the property does not exceed $15,000, the natural guardian(s) 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.” Fla. Stat. § 744.301(2). 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 the court. Until the minor reaches the legal age of majority, he or she is under a type of “disability” because she lacks the capacity to enter into binding contracts. However, if the minor does not want to sell the property or does not need to sell the property, he or she may choose to hang on to the property until he or she reaches the age of majority.