It is not uncommon for a minor to inherit property in California probate. Minors usually inherit property in probate when the decedent dies unexpectedly or when assets are not put into a trust properly. Under California law, when a minor inherits property or a large sum of money, an estate guardian must be appointed. Upon reaching 18-years of age, the minor, now an adult, will be able to manage his/her inheritance.

Overview of Guardianship When a Minor Inherits Property

When a minor inherits property, a guardianship of the estate must be created to manage a child’s money or property until he/she reaches 18-years of age. Guardians of estates are usually named in a will. Most people assume that a minor’s parents are automatically named as guardians of the estate. This is not necessarily true. A minor’s parent may or may not be appointed to serve as the guardian of the minor’s estate. Typically, a guardian will be named in a will.  If the will is silent in naming a guardian, or if there is no will, then the court will need to appoint a guardian of the minor’s estate.

“My daughter inherited a large amount of money from her uncle. As her mother, I had no idea I needed to get a formal guardianship established to manage her estate.” H. Francis
“A People’s Choice helped us prepare and file all the necessary paperwork to get the formal guardianship set up so that my daughter could receive her inheritance.” H. Francis

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TOn order to protect the minor’s inheritance, the court may ask the guardian to buy a bond with an insurance company. Alternatively, the court may tell the guardian to deposit all monies in a “blocked” account with a bank. This helps to make sure that the guardian does not improperly use the monies.  There are several court forms that are required to be filed to set up a guardianship of a minor’s estate. Furthermore, all the minor’s relatives must be informed of the petition for guardianship.  This can be a tricky process, and the help of a legal document assistant to prepare the required forms can make the process easier.

Responsibilities of Guardian When a Minor Inherits Property

When a minor inherits property in California, the guardian of the estate is responsible for completing the following tasks:

  • Manage the minor’s money
  • Make smart investments
  • Manage the minor’s property

The guardian of the estate will have many responsibilities once they have been appointed guardian of a minor’s estate. A court appointed guardian must file financial reports with the courts which include an inventory and appraisal signed by a referee. In addition, the guardian must also do the following:

  • Make sure all inherited property is in the minor’s name.
  • Record copies of the Letters of Guardianship with the County Recorder of every county the minor owns property.
  • Routinely collect and inventory the minor’s assets
  • Maintain detailed financial records and file necessary accountings with the court

It should be noted that all expenditures from the estate must be used for the health and welfare and to otherwise benefit the child. Most importantly, when a minor inherits property and money, the guardian of the estate cannot commingle the minor’s monies with his/her own accounts. Family members of the minor can ask for an accounting of assets from the guardian as well. In addition, large estate expenditures may also need court approval.

Contact A People’s Choice for help in completing the necessary legal forms to be appointed as the guardian of a minor’s estate. We can help you get a court order to manage a minor’s California probate inheritance. Call 800-747-2780 for information about how we can draft and file the necessary forms for you.

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