It's a bad idea for a minor to own a house

MAILBAG

September 26, 1999

Dear Mr. Azrael:

I want to know if a child can own a home?

William Larkey Glen Burnie

Dear Mr. Larkey:

A minor child legally can own a house, but, in my opinion, it is a bad idea. A child under the age of 18 is a minor and lacks legal capacity to sell, mortgage or convey his or her interest in real estate.

To sell, mortgage or convey real property owned by a minor, an adult guardian would have to be appointed by a court to act for and on behalf of the child. This is a time-consuming and relatively expensive process.

Instead, real property is often placed in a trust for a minor child. The trustee of the trust could be a corporation or adult individual. The trustee may be given express legal authority to sell, mortgage or convey an interest in real estate, and to hold or distribute the proceeds for the benefit of the child, in whatever manner the written trust instrument provides.

When making a will or deed, you should take care not to name a minor child as an outright recipient of either real or personal property.

Questions?

The Sun invites you to send real estate questions to Mailbag. Questions are answered by Jonathan A. Azrael of Azrael, Gann and Franz of Towson.

Questions -- including name, address and daytime telephone number -- may be sent in the following ways:

Mailing address: Real Estate Mailbag, Fifth Floor, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278-0001. Fax: 410-783-2517. E-mail: real.estate@baltsun.com

Call our Sundial audio-response number, 410-783-1800. Enter code 6170.

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