The Associate Commissioner for the Office of Program Benefits has requested our opinion
on whether or not minors may hold title to real or personal property. Specifically
she has requested whether there are any restrictions regarding the age of the minor,
the type of property that may be held, the specific method of titling the property,
and, in that case where a minor may not hold property in his own name, the preferred
method for titling property to reflect the minor's interest. For the reasons discussed
below, it is our opinion that Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode
Island and Vermont all allow a minor to hold title to both real and personal property.
New Hampshire statutes permit a minor to hold title to certain types of personal property
including corporate shares and motor vehicles. See N.H. Rev. Stat. § 393:10 and N.H. Rev. Stat. § 261:53. Additionally, money deposited
in a financial institution in the name of a minor is considered his property. N.H.
Rev. Stat. § 386:18 and N.H. Rev. Stat. § 390:12-a. There do not appear to be any
specific requirements on how any of the above listed property is to be titled, other
than noting the minor's name as owner. In regards to corporate shares and bank accounts
there are no documented age restrictions, however in order for a minor to register
a motor vehicle, he must be at least 18 years of age. See N.H. Rev. Stat. § 261:53.
There are no such specific statutes involving a minor's ability to ho1d real property.
However, there is case law in this regard. Pearson et. al. v. Baldwin et. al., 123 A. 891 (1918). Additionally, examination of both the New Hampshire's
Guardians and Conservator Laws, as well as New Hampshire's adaptation of the Uniform
Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) demonstrate that a minor retains title, in his property.
Section 463:19 of New Hampshire's Guardians and Conservators statutes notes that while
the guardian "shall take possession of all the minor's real and personal property"..."the
title of all such estate...shall be in the minor or in the guardian on behalf of the
minor". Thus clearly, a minor is able to hold title to both real and personal property
under this section.
Moreover, under the, the transferred property' is "indefeasibly vested in the minor,
but the custodian has all of the rights, powers, duties and authority provided in
th[e] Act". N.H. Rev. Stat. § 463-A:11. This transfer is accomplished whenever the
property is registered in the name of an adult or trust company "as custodian for
(name of minor) under the New Hampshire Uniform Transfer to Minors Act". N.H. Rev.
Stat. § 463-A:9. Thus, as the property itself is vested in the minor, subject only
to the custodian's management for a finite period of years, it would appear that the
minor still retains his title to the property. The UTMA does not appear to place any
restrictions on age or type of property transferred.
1/A guardian may sell a minor's personal property without a license from the court
in order to pay debts. M.G.L.A. 201 § 37.