PR 07215.041 Oregon

A. PR 00-037 Purchase of Property by Representative Payees on Behalf of Minor Children — Revised

DATE: May 14, 1999


In Region X (Seattle), the States of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington generally allow a minor to hold legal title to real and personal property.


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. § 126.832.

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 ap