Are you administering the Orange County estate or trust of a loved one that contains a minor beneficiary? If so, you must take extra measures when it comes to handling the inheritance of that minor. Children are not eligible to inherit property outright under California law. A guardian may need to be appointed over the child. This guardian is not necessarily or automatically the parent of the child.

How is a guardian appointed in Orange County? The following are four general steps to obtaining a guardianship over a minor: 

  1. The individual applying for the guardianship must file a petition with the proper probate court.
  2. The guardian may be ordered to purchase a bond from an insurance company.
  3. In the alternative, funds may be placed in a blocked account with a bank or brokerage firm.
  4. All relatives of the minor must be informed of the petition for guardianship.

Once appointed, the responsibilities of the guardian are substantial. These responsibilities include:

  • Filing financial reports with the court within 90 days of being appointed; this includes an inventory and an appraisal signed by a referee that shows the value of the assets of the minor’s estate
  • Gather, protect, and keep records of the child’s property
  • Ensure that all of the child’s inherited property is titled in the name of his estate
  • Record copies of the Letters of Guardianship in any counties where the child owns real estate
  • Use expenditures from the child’s estate strictly for his benefit

Simply ignoring these requirements and distributing property to a minor or his parent without a guardianship or other court-approved method could be a costly mistake. As trustee or executor of the Orange County estate, you are responsible for handling the assets properly and in accordance with the law. Fortunately, our office of experienced Orange County trust attorneys can help. Learn what our other clients have to say about us by viewing our testimonials.

James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm
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