Guardians of the Property of Minors
Guardianship of a minor takes two forms:
The guardianship of the person of a minor involves the personal decisions regarding care, residence, educational needs and medical decisions. The parents of a minor are the natural guardians of the minor; however in the event of death of the parent or parents, a guardian of the person of the minor is appointed on application, in the Henrico Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court or the Henrico Circuit Court.
The guardianship of the property of a minor involves the care and preservation of assets belonging to the minor. These assets may have been received by inheritance, gift or settlement of a wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit. Since a person under the age of 18 does not have the legal capacity to hold title to and control his assets, often a formal guardianship for his or her property is necessary. Appointment of the guardian of the property of a minor is made in the Clerk’s Office of the Henrico Circuit Court or in some circumstances in the Circuit Court by one of the Judges.
Guardianship of the person of a minor is not within the jurisdiction of the Office of the Commissioner of Accounts and therefore no filings are required with the Commissioner.
Guardianship of the property of a minor is within the jurisdiction of the Commissioner of Accounts and the filing of an inventory of all assets under the control of the guardian and accountings for each and every transaction involving the minor’s assets is mandatory.
Guardians of the property of a minor have to qualify before the Clerk of Court or the Circuit Court, give bond and in most cases post corporate surety on the bond. The guardianship continues until the minor reaches age eighteen (18) at which time the minor is entitled to have all the assets delivered to him. Even if the guardian believes that the minor is not ready to handle the assets at age 18, the minor is entitled to the assets and they must be delivered to the minor at age 18 unless there has been some Court order entered delaying the delivery of the assets to the minor.
The powers and duties of the Guardian of the Property are addressed by Virginia statutes and more fully described in the material which follows in this website.
The rules for the use of the minor’s assets for his or her support can be complex. This is especially true where the minor has a living parent. In that case none of the minor’s assets may be used for his support, unless approved, in advance, by the Henrico Circuit Court or by the Commissioner of Accounts.
The information given to you at the time of qualification will be very helpful to you in carrying out your responsibilities with respect to the minor’s assets. The information provided in this website will provide other specific guidance regarding your accounting responsibilities to the Commissioner of Accounts’ office. If you have additional questions or concerns you should consider consulting with a qualified minor’s guardianship attorney. The employment of a CPA for preparation of the minor’s tax returns, if necessary, is appropriate.
Keep good records of all transactions and every document received which pertains to the assets of the minor. Many of those documents will have to be presented to the Commissioner’s Office when you file your accounts. Keep the minor’s assets segregated in a guardianship interest bearing bank account, with you as the guardian having the only signature authority on the account. Do not comingle the minor’s assets with your assets, or the assets of one minor with the assets of another minor. Do not borrow or lend the minor’s assets. Remember that the goal of the guardianship is to preserve the minor’s assets until they are delivered to him or her at age eighteen (18).