You requested a formal legal opinion on a State-by-State basis addressing four issues
relating to whether minors can hold title to certain types of property and how the
property must be titled. My original response was submitted January 19, 1999. During
a telephone conference on April 21, 1999, the regions were asked to revise their opinions.
Below are the revised responses for the States in the Seattle Region (Alaska, Idaho,
Oregon, and Washington).
1. Does Alaska permit a minor to hold title to real property or personal property
such as an automobile?
A minor may hold legal title to real or personal property. R.L.R v. State, 487 P.2d 27, 34 (Alaska 1971); State v. F.L.A., 608 P.2d 12, 15-16 (Alaska 1980); see also Alaska Stat. § 13.46.100.
Where a minor's property is managed through a custodianship under the Alaska Uniform
Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA), Alaska Stat. §§ 13.46.010-13.46.990, legal title to
the property remains "indefeasibly vested" in the minor. Alaska Stat. § 13.46.100(b).
However, the custodian has all the rights, powers, duties and authority provided in
the UTMA, and neither the minor nor his/her legal representative has any right, power,
duty or authority with respect to the custodial property except as provided in the
UTMA. Id. Unless otherwise specified by the transfer or by statute, the custodian must distribute
the property when the minor reaches age 21. Alaska Stat. § 13.46.195(f).
Custodial property is created and a transfer is made when securities, money, a life
or endowment insurance policy, irrevocable exercise of a power of appointment or an
irrevocable present right to future payment under a contract, interest in real property,
certificate of title to tangible personal property or an interest in other property
is paid, delivered, recorded, registered, issued or transferred by a written instrument
followed in substance by the words: "... as custodian for... (name of minor) under
the Alaska Uniform Transfers to Minors Act." Alaska Stat. § 13.46.080.
Where a conservator is appointed to protect the minor's property, Alaska Stat. §§
13.26.165-13.26.315, the conservator holds legal title as trustee to all of the property.
Alaska Stat. § 13.26.260. The property and legal title are transferred to the minor
when he/she attains majority (age 18). Alaska Stat. § 13.26.285(c). However, if the
minor was adjudged disabled under Alaska Stat. § 13.26.165(2), the property and legal
title are transferred when the disability ceases. Alaska Stat. § 13.26.285(d).
Where a minor's property is managed under the terms of a trust document, Alaska Stat.
§§ 13.36.105-13.36-220 (Alaska Trust Act) and 13.36.225-13.26.290 (Alaska Uniform
Prudent Investor Act), the trustee holds legal title to the property. Johnson v. Johnson, 544 P.2d 65, 75 (Alaska 1975) (appointment of a trustee for a child is justified
"where allowing unencumbered legal title to remain in the trustee's hands may simplify
and expedite real estate conveyances"). The trustee distributes property and legal
title at the age designated in the trust document. Alaska Stet. § 13.36.109. If a
trustee irrevocably transfers a minor's property to a custodianship under the UTMA,
see Alaska Stat. §§ 13.46.040 and 13.46.050, legal title to the property reverts to
the minor under Alaska Stat. § 13.46.100(b).
Where a guardian is appointed to protect the minor's property, Alaska Stat. §§ 13.06.005-13.26.150,
there is no Alaska statute or court case stating that the guardian holds the legal
title to the property. A guardianship continues until it is terminated (i.e., when
the minor reaches majority, if the guardian was appointed solely because of the person's
minority). Alaska Stat. § 13.26.030.
2. Are there any restrictions in Alaska as to the age of the minor or the types of
property that can be held?
A minor is defined as a person under age 18. See Alaska Stat. § 25.20.010. A minor
who is at least sixteen years of age may petition for a declaration of emancipation.
Alaska Stat. § 09.55.590.
For purposes of the Alaska UTMA, a minor is a person under age 18, or a person who
has not yet attained the age at which a custodian is required to transfer the custodial
property to the minor. Alaska Stat. § 13.46.990.
A minor may enter into a contract that is binding on the promisee, but voidable by
the minor. R.L.R, 487 P.2d at 34; F.L.A., 608 P.2d at 15-16.
A contract for the purchase of a motor vehicle by an unemancipated minor is void unless
a parent or guardian of the minor is also a party to the agreement. Alaska Stat. §
28.10.301. Where a vehicle is improperly transferred to a minor, the title to and
registration of the vehicle remains with the previous owner, and does not transfer.
When a minor is entitled to receive stock under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement
Act (43 U.S.C. §§ 1601-1642), the stock must be held in a custodianship under the
Alaska UTMA until the minor reaches age 18. Alaska Stat. § 13.46.085. However, when
the minor is in the custody of the State, the native corporation must retain the dividends
or distributions in an interest bearing account for the benefit of the minor Alaska
Stat. § 10.06.961.
3. Are there any specific requirements in Alaska on how the property should/must be
titled to show the minor as titleholder?
In a custodianship under the Alaska UTMA, custodial property is held in the name of
the custodian followed in substance by the words: "as custodian for (name of minor)
under the Alaska Uniform Transfers to Minors Act." Alaska Stat. § 13.46.080. As for
stocks issued under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, the form of registration
or title shall be "as custodian for (name of minor) under the Alaska Claims Settlement
Act." Alaska Stat. § 13.46.085(d)(5).
A minor's account in a financial institution may be in his/her name. Alaska Stat.
There are no other specific requirements in Alaska on how the property must be titled.
4. If Alaska does not permit a minor to hold title to property, or does not permit
the property to be titled/registered in the minor's name, what is the preferred method(s)
of titling property to reflect or protect the minor's interest in the property and
satisfy SSA's regulatory requirements?
As noted above, where a minor's property is part of a conservatorship or a trusteeship,
the conservator or trustee holds legal title. We were unable to find any specific
requirements or preferred methods of titling the property in these situations.
1/ A court may transfer court-approved payments or awards into a special needs trust
for the benefit of a minor, Idaho Code § 68-1403(1 and 4), or into an insured account
in a financial institution, Idaho Code § 68-1403(3)(a), or into a custodianship under
the Idaho UTMA, Idaho Code § 68-1403(3)(b).