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 Oregon permit a minor to hold title to real property or personal property
such as an automobile?
A minor may hold legal title to property. See, e.g., Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 126.805, 722.258 (minor holding savings account).
Where a minor's property is managed through a custodianship under the Oregon UTMA,
Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 126.805-126.886, legal title to the property remains "indefeasibly
vested" in the minor. Or. Rev. Stat. § 126.839(2). However, the custodian has all
the rights, powers, duties and authority provided in the Oregon 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. The custodian distributes some property when the minor reaches age 18, and other
property when the minor reaches age 21. Or. Rev. Stat. § 126.869.
Custodial property is created and a transfer is made whenever securities, money, a
life or endowment insurance policy or annuity contract, 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 any property is transferred, paid, recorded, delivered, or registered
by a written instrument followed in substance by the words: "... as custodian for
(name of minor) under the Oregon Uniform Transfers to Minors Act." Or. Rev. Stat.
Where a conservator is appointed to protect the minor's property, Or. Rev. Stat. §§
125.400-125.540, the conservator does not hold legal title, the protected minor does.
Or. Rev. Stat. § 125.420; see also Or. Rev. Stat. § 111.085 (the probate court has jurisdiction to determine title
and the rights to property claimed by or against a conservator). Assets in the possession
of the conservator must be delivered upon an order of the court approving the final
accounting of the conservator. Or. Rev. Stat. § 125.525.
Where a minor's property is managed under the terms of a trust document, Or. Rev.
Stat. §§ 128.055, 128.065, 128.196-128.218, the trustee holds legal title to the property.
Morse v. Paulson, 186 P.2d 394, 396-97 (Oregon 1947). The trustee distributes property and legal title
at the time designated in the trust document. Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 128.055, 128.065,
128.202. If a trustee irrevocably transfers a minor's property to a custodianship
under the Oregon UTMA, see Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 126.819 and 126.822, legal title reverts to the minor under Or.
Rev. Stat. § 126.839(2).
There is no Oregon statute or case indicating who holds the legal title to property
when property is managed under a guardianship. Or. Rev. Stat. § 111.085 vests the
probate court with jurisdiction to determine title, and rights in property claimed
by or against a guardian. A guardianship continues until it is terminated (i.e., when
the minor reaches majority age, or is no longer incapacitated). Or. Rev. Stat. §§
125.005(6), 125.305. A guardian is not a conservator of the minor's estate, unless
the guardian is also appointed as conservator. Or. Rev. Stat. § 419B.379.
2. Are there any restrictions in Oregon as to the age of the minor or the types of
property that can be held?
In Oregon, the age of majority is 18. Or. Rev. Stat. § 109.510. A minor who is lawfully
married is deemed to have reached the age of majority. Or. Rev. Stat. § 109.520. A
minor who is at least sixteen years of age may petition for a declaration of emancipation.
Or. Rev. Stat. § 419B.558.
For purposes of a custodianship under the Oregon UTMA, minor is "any person who has
not attained the age of 21 years." Or. Rev. Stat. § 126.805(11).
A minor, upon becoming of age, may decide for himself/herself to affirm or disaffirm
a contract. Williams v. Briggs, 502 P.2d 245, 249-50 (Oregon 1972) (involved the guardian's sale of the minor's property
without court approval).
A minor has a right to contract for the necessities of a residential dwelling unit
and for utility services if the minor is living apart from his/her parent and is age
16 or 17, or is under age 16 and a parent of a child who is living in his/her physical
custody, or is under age 16, pregnant, and expecting the birth of a child who will
be living in her physical custody. This contract is binding upon the minor and cannot
be voided or disaffirmed by the minor based upon his/her age or status. Or. Rev. Stat.
Minors may enter into contracts of deposit with financial institutions. Any account
in the name of a minor is held for the exclusive right and- benefit of the minor free
from the control of all other persons. Or. Rev. Stat. § 708A.425; see also Or. Rev. Stat. § 722.258 (minor holding savings account).
3. Are there any specific requirements in Oregon on how the property should/must be
titled to show the minor as titleholder?
Under the Oregon 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 Oregon Uniform
Transfers to Minors Act." Or. Rev. Stat. § 126.832.
There are no other specific requirements on how property must be titled to show the
minor as the titleholder. See also, Or. Rev. Stat. § 93-870 (the deed forms set forth in §§ 93.850-93.865 are permissive
and other forms may be used).
4. If Oregon 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 managed under a trust document, the trustee
holds legal title. We were unable to find a preferred method of titling the property
in this situation.
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).