Can My Minor Child Inherit Property?

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When it comes to your life planning, there are always real items to consider. Who do I want to be the personal representative of my estate? What about guardians for my child? Can I hold money in a trust for another person? How do I know that my wishes are being honored? Who do I need to name in my estate planning documents, and what roles and responsibilities will they end up with? 

All of these are very valid questions, and we are happy to go over all of these with you during your initial estate planning appointment. 

Especially for younger couples, minor children always seem to be a topic of conversation. Who would care for my child in the event of my passing? How can I make sure my child is financially taken care of in my absence? 

As more couples with minor children start to establish themselves in their careers, form their nest eggs, and make real estate purchases, the question becomes: can my minor child actually inherit property? It is a common, and completely valid, question as one’s real property is typically one of their greatest assets. 

Can My Minor Child Inherit Real Property? 

In short: A minor child may inherit property in Florida if both parents are deceased. If there is a surviving spouse, that spouse typically inherits the property.  

However, it can be a little more complicated depending on the family dynamic. If your family extends beyond your spouse and the children you have together, the children you have from other relationships also have inheritance rights.  

There are other intestate succession scenarios that may be relevant to your particular situation. In these cases, we recommend that you schedule an appointment with us so we may provide you with the Florida inheritance laws that apply to you. 

According to Florida law, biological children (whether born within a marriage or not) and adopted children have the same inheritance rights. These rights apply to children as long as they have been conceived prior to your death, even if they are born after you have passed. On the other hand, stepchildren would not be recognized as having the same inheritance benefits, unless your will lists otherwise. If your family dynamic is not so cut and dry, estate planning documents will ensure that your wishes are honored and your stepchildren have inheritance rights. 

Who Manages the Property Inherited by my Children? 

A minor child must have an adult who manages their property for them until they are 18 years old (exceptions apply) and can manage the property for themselves.  

Should you have assets and minor children, a trust may be in the best interest of your family. A trustee would be named and would then be responsible for managing your child’s property according to the terms you have laid out in your trust. When forming your trust, it is at your discretion how you would like your assets distributed to your child. For example, you may direct that the trustee not distribute the principle assets until the age of 25, after which the child would manage their own inheritance.  

If you do not have a trust or will in place to name an individual to manage the property for your minor child, a property guardian will be appointed by the courts. The property guardian will assume the role of managing the property until your child is 18 years old.  

What is the Difference Between a Property Guardian and a Trustee? 

A property guardian is different from a trustee in three major ways: 

1.        A property guardian is appointed because the decedent did not create a last will and testament or trust, which would have named an individual to take on this role.

2.       A property guardian’s role terminates when your child turns 18 because in the eyes of the state, your child is now an adult and can manage his or her property on their own. When a trust is in place, and a trustee is named, their role is to follow your instructions as outlined in your trust. Their role does not automatically end when your child is 18; rather, it ends when you would like it to, as outlined in your trust.

3.       A property guardian must file documents with the court to show how they are handling your assets for your minor child. Whereas, a trustee does not. 

Other Information to Know About Your Minor Child’s Inheritance 

•    A benefit in funding a trust is that your assets remain in the trust and are protected from probate court.

•    The funds in a trust are used by the trustee for the care of your minor child, such as health, education and living expenses.

•    A law called the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act allows you, the property owner and parent, to choose a custodian to hold any money or property left to your child. Many choose to set up an account specifically for this purpose. Funds can be held in this account until the child reaches adulthood. 

Caring for your minor child is of the utmost importance, and we understand how crucial this is. When it comes to your planning, we will work with you to make sure all of your needs and wishes are being met, and you can rest assured that your minor child is cared for in the way you intended. 

 

Get Guidance from a St. Petersburg Estate Planning Attorney 

If you want to ensure that your children and their heirs will be taken care of upon your passing, there are ways to make sure of this and provide you with peace of mind. Contact our St. Petersburg office by completely the form or by calling (727) 537-6818 to make an appointment with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys today!

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Estate PlanningKira Doyle