Minors: Overview

Although uncommon, a deed conveying property to a child would not be considered invalid simply because the child is a minor; however, such minor child would not be able to convey or encumber title to the property until he is of legal age. A conservator or guardian of such minor child – with a proper court appointment – may be able to convey, encumber, or otherwise effect the use of the property on behalf of the minor child, usually with court approval, provided applicable laws such as those noted below are followed.


Natural guardians   are, however, considered to be binding on the ward only for personal property. Statutory provisions limiting the value of property owned by the minor which can be conveyed by a natural guardian without court approval may exist in some states. As a general principle, natural guardians must obtain court appointment and approval to transfer or otherwise affect real property of a minor. Formal guardianship of a minor generally requires the filing of a petition; a court hearing; and adjudication and the appointment of guardian(s) of the minor of his person.


In states which have adopted the Uniform Probate Code, a conservator must be court appointed to convey or transfer real property owned by a minor. (This is true even if the natural parents of the minor seek to convey the minor’s property.)


Generally the powers of guardian – upon court approval – include the power to sell, mortgage, lease, or otherwise encumber said real property. However, in most states, such sale must be authorized or confirmed by the court. Title examination should include review of the certified petition for sale setting forth the reasons for said sale; an adequate description of the property; the price and terms of sale, mortgage or other contract; and whether the sale is private or public, as well as the subsequent terms and conditions of the court orders approving said sale, mortgage, or lease.


In Uniform Probate Code states, a conservator must be appointed to sell or convey any real property of a minor. Such appointment is evidenced by a document called “Letters”. The Letters must be recorded and usually no further court approval or confirmation is required. Letters must be carefully examined for any restrictions on authority.