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Be Careful What Property You Distribute to Minors in California

The Only Way to Distribute Property to Minors in California

Minors are often involved in the distribution of a decedent’s estate in California, either because they are named in the will, or because they are among the rightful heirs. Read below to learn more about how to be careful of the property you distribute.

Under California laws, the transfer of property to minors is only possible in a number of specific cases:

  • The property is of limited value.
  • The minor has a guardian appointed by a court.
  • The decedent’s will appoints a custodian to receive the minor’s property.
  • The transfer is subject to authorization by the court.

Limited value of the of the estate of the property you distribute

If the minor’s total estate does not exceed $5,000 (adding what the minor already owned and what he or she is entitled to inherit), the property may be transferred to a parent of the minor who will hold it in trust until the minor has reached legal majority age. The petition should enclose a declaration under oath by the parent stating the value of the minor’s estate, under penalty of perjury. The minor’s estate limit may be raised to $10,000 under the following conditions:

  • The will does contain provisions that prohibit the transfer to the minor.
  • The personal representative considers that the transfer is in the best interests of the minor.


Any part of a California estate can be distributed to a minor who has a court-appointed guardian who will look after the child’s interests until he or she reaches the age of 18.


If the decedent had appointed someone to act as the minor’s custodian, in the will or in any other written document, the personal representative is authorized to transfer the assets to this custodian. The custodian will keep the property for the minor’s benefit under the California Uniform Gifts to Minors Act, or the California Uniform Transfers to Minors Act. These acts describe the regulations regarding the management of the property, the keeping of records, and other duties and rights of the custodian.

Other transfers authorized by court

Money can be transferred to a California bank, trust, or savings and loan account subject to withdrawal upon order of the court. Other types of property may be distributed to a minor if the court approves the transfer.

Talk to San Diego estate planning and probate attorney Scott Grossman about your situation and the questions you have. Call our lawyers at (951) 683-3704 or (866) 840-0000 for your FREE 30-minute telephone consultation. Also, order our FREE probate book The Insider’s Guide to California Probate and Trust Administration.

Scott Grossman

Scott Grossman


The Grossman Law Firm, APC · 525 B Street, Suite 1500, San Diego, CA 92101 · (951) 523-8307

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