We love ‘em.
And so, if you have children or grandchildren, you may be wondering about transfers to minors and Florida’s Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA).
You probably stay up at night, not because the kids don’t sleep through the night yet, but because you are pacing the floor trying to figure out if you can transfer money or property to your children or grandchildren.
So, can you?
Well, the answer is…
You need to do it correctly.
You can transfer money or property to a minor, but not outright.
For instance, you do not want to name a minor as a beneficiary or leave money or property to a minor directly.
Because a minor does not have the legal capacity to manage money or property. So leaving them money outright causes all kinds of complications and unnecessary expense.
Then how can you leave your children or grandchildren money?
We cannot provide a detailed exposition on the UTMA in a short post (so please consult an estate and probate lawyer for more detailed information on this topic), but we can outline the basics to give you a little knowledge regarding what the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act is, and how it works.
So here we go.
Florida’s Uniform Transfers to Minors Act
Briefly, Florida’s UTMA is a law that simplifies transferring assets to minors. UTMA accounts provide some of the same advantages of a traditional trust but are generally less expensive and less complex.
A UTMA account can be used if either:
- the person transferring the property (i.e., the “transferor”), or the minor, or the custodian is a Florida resident,
- if the property in the account is located in Florida.
Instead of creating a trust, you create an UTMA account for the minor. Once property is transferred to the UTMA account, the assets, which are controlled by a designated custodian for the minor’s benefit, legally belong to the minor. Much like a trust, the custodian (like a trustee) is a fiduciary who manages, invests, and distributes the assets in the account for the minor’s benefit and in accordance with the terms of the account.
Here are 2 Things to Know About Transfers to Minors and Florida’s Uniform Transfer to Minors Act.
UTMA accounts are limited in what they can do.
While a UTMA can be a great option for transferring property to minors, one of the things you should know is that the UTMA is limited in what it can do— especially when compared to a trust.
One major limitation is that in Florida, a UTMA will terminate, at the latest, on the beneficiary’s 25th birthday. (For more on this, see below.) In contrast, a trust can last far longer into a person’s adulthood if that is desired. Thus, a UTMA may not suit your purpose if you want the minor to receive the assets at a later time, or if you want to preserve the property for more than one generation.
Another limitation is that the terms of a UTMA account are not specifically tailored to meet a grantor’s objectives or directions as they are in a trust. Basically, with a UTMA account, the custodian must simply use the asset for the minor’s benefit. Other than that, there are no detailed or specific limitations or instructions that govern the administration of the account.
It ends when the minor reaches the legal age of majority —which can vary.
Another thing you should know about the Florida’s Uniform Transfers to Minors Act is that the account will terminate when the minor reaches the state’s “legal age”—and at that time, the property belongs outright to the (now former minor) young adult.
Whether the account terminates at age 18, 21, or 25 (in Florida), all depends.
- If the transfer was made under the terms of a Florida Last Will and Testament (“Will”) as a gift, or if a trust expressly created the UTMA account, the account will end when the minor reaches age 21.
- If the account was not specifically created but came into being due to intestacy or because of a trust, then the account terminates at age 18.
Note that in Florida, a UTMA can last until the beneficiary turns 25 —if the transferor expresses a clear intent that the account continue to the age of 25.
However, regardless of the transferor’s intent or desires, when the beneficiary turns 21, in Florida he has an “absolute right to compel” distribution of the account. That means that the beneficiary can close the account— even if it says the account is to last until age 25, and can exercise his right to have the property distributed to him/her.
Thinking about leaving property to your children or grandchildren doesn’t have to keep you up at night. Talk to an experienced estate and probate lawyer to find out what estate planning strategies are best for you and your loved ones.
Here When You Need Peace of Mind
Helping individuals plan their estate and navigate the probate process is what the attorneys at the Law Offices of Samantha J. Fitzgerald do. We provide individualized estate plans and expertly guide individuals through the complex probate process, and capably handle all aspects of the creation, administration, and settlement of trusts as well. Contact us here or email us at: [email protected]