PR 07215.043 Puerto Rico
A. PR 00-030 Purchase of Property by Representative Payees on Behalf of Minor Children-Memorandum of December 2, 1998
DATE: February 12, 1999
In Region II (New York), the States of New Jersey and New York, and the territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands permit a minor to hold title to both real and personal property.
You requested a legal opinion regarding the purchase of property by representative payees on behalf of minor children. Below is Region II's response for the States of New Jersey and New York, and the territories of Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands.
1. Does the State permit a minor to hold title to real or personal property?
Yes. The age of majority begins at 21. P.R. Laws Ann. tit.31, § 971 (1993). Minors may squire the possession of things, but they require the assistance of their legal representatives to exercise the fights in their favor which arise out of that possession. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 31, § 1446. Thus, minority only restricts the capacity of the individual to act on his own. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 31, § 82.
A minor may be emancipated at age 18 with the consent of his parents, or by court order, for the purpose of governing himself or administering his property, P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 31, §§ 911,912. Until he becomes 21, however, an emancipated minor cannot contract any obligation exceeding the value of his income for one year, or encumber or sell real property without the consent of a parent. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 31, § 915. The same is true for a minor emancipated by marriage. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 31, § 931
Puerto Rico follows the doctrine of patria potestas which gives both parents the power to hold as their own any property or acquisitions of unemancipated minor children. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 31, § 611. In the absence of judicial decree, the administration of the property of children under patria potestas belongs to the parents. Id. Property or income donated or bequeathed for the education of an unemancipated minor belongs to the minor, but parents shall have the administration of such funds, unless the donors provide otherwise. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 31, § 615. Patria potestas ends with the death of the parents or child, through emancipation of the child, by adoption of the child by another. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 31 § 631, or by termination by the court for misconduct. P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 31, § 634.
The exercise of the patria potestas does not authorize either parent to alienate or lay an encumbrance upon a minor's real or personal property valued over $2,000 without court authorization. T.31 § 616 The court usually appoints a tutor to defend the minor's interests T.31 § 616. The tutor may not alienate or encumber real property, make contracts or execute acts which require recording, or alienate personal property valued over $1000 without permission from the court. § 786. Tutorship ends when the minor attains 21 years of age, is adopted, or otherwise emancipated. § 791
Case law indicates that an unemancipated minor may hold title to real property but patria potestas confers the administration of the property to the parents. Gonzalez Iturreggui v. Gonzalez Olazabal, RE-92-96 (3/25/93); Ex parte Arsuaga 42 P.R.R. 108 (1931); Roig v. Secretary of the Treasury, 84 P.R.R. 141 (1964); Melendez v. Registrar, 58 P.R.R. 328 (1941).
2. Does the State place restrictions as to the age of the minor or the types of property that can be held?
No. Statutory law places no restrictions on the age of the minor or the types of property that can be held.
3. Are there any specific requirements to show how the property should or must be titled to show the minor as owner?
There appear to be no specific requirements regarding title
4. If a State does not permit a minor to hold title to property, or does not permit the property to be titled or registered in the minor's name, what is the preferred method of titling the property to reflect the minors interest in the property and satisfy SSA regulatory requirements?