PR 07215.032 New Hampshire
A. PR 00-031 Purchase of Property by Representative Payees on Behalf of Minor Children
DATE: February 18, 1999
In Region I (Boston), the States of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont all allow a minor to hold title to both real and personal property.
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.