Can Minors Inherit Property?

by | Apr 10, 2024 | Estate Planning |

As an attorney practicing in Seattle, I often encounter questions about inheritance laws, particularly regarding minors. In Washington State, the issue of minors inheriting property is governed by specific legal provisions aimed at protecting the interests of minors who may not yet have the capacity to manage their inheritance.

One common misconception is that minors cannot inherit at all in Washington State. While it’s true that minors are generally deemed incompetent to inherit under state law, the situation is a bit more nuanced than a simple prohibition.

When a minor is named as a beneficiary in a will or as an heir in an intestate succession (when someone dies without a will), the inheritance doesn’t automatically pass into their hands. Instead, a court process called guardianship comes into play to ensure the proper management of the minor’s inheritance until they reach the age of majority.

The need for guardianship largely depends on the amount of property the minor is set to inherit. If the value is relatively small, the court may allow the inheritance to be managed by a custodian under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA). This provides a streamlined process for managing modest inheritances without the need for a full guardianship proceeding.

However, for larger inheritances or more complex estates, a formal guardianship will likely be required. This involves petitioning the court to appoint a guardian – either a family member or a qualified individual appointed by the court – to manage the minor’s inheritance until they come of age.

Guardianship proceedings can be complex and involve court oversight to ensure the guardian acts in the minor’s best interests. The guardian is responsible for managing the inheritance prudently, making financial decisions on behalf of the minor, and providing periodic accountings to the court.

It’s essential for families to understand these nuances of inheritance law, especially when drafting wills or planning estates that involve minor beneficiaries. Schedule a consultation with attorney Darcel Lobo to navigate these complexities and ensure that the best interests of minor heirs are protected.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our firm at (206) 408-8158 and learn more about our services by visiting our YouTube channel: