Florida Guardianship Law

In the following article, a knowledgeable probate attorney discusses Florida guardianship law as it applies to a minor inheriting property.

Who can sign a deed for a minor?

While a minor in Florida (most persons under age 18) can sign a deed, it's very risky because that deed is voidable, meaning it can be undone. So how do you sell real property that has been left to a minor in a deceased's will, or descends to a minor in an intestate estate? The answer in Florida depends on whether the property is the homestead of the deceased.

Minors and Homestead Property

If the property was the homestead of the deceased and the heirs include a minor, then the title to the property technically transferred to the minor upon the deceased's death. In order for the minor to convey his or her interest in the property, a guardianship must be established in order for someone over 18 to be able to sign the deed as guardian of the minor. According to Florida law, the guardianship would just be for the property of the minor, not the person. (Hopefully there is a parent who is the natural guardian of the person.) The guardianship court will need to approve the sale of the property, and in most circumstances the minor's proceeds from the sale will need to be placed in a designated depository bank account. Once the money is in the depository, it can only be used with court approval. The guardianship must remain open until the minor turns 18.

Where is the guardianship filed?

If there is no Florida resident qualified to serve as guardian, a guardianship must first be filed in the state where the minor resides, and an ancillary guardianship will need to be filed in Florida. Otherwise, the title underwriters will not recognize the power of the foreign guardian to sell the property. However, if the minor and his or her parents live out of state, the guardianship can be filed in Florida if the parents petition the court to have a Florida resident appointed as guardian (such as a sister or aunt of the minor who lives in Florida). Which county? Where the real property is located.

Non-homestead Property and a Minor

For non-homestead property, use of the Uniform Transfers to Minor's Act can avoid guardianship. This act allows a custodian to take title to the real property in the name of the minor. If the will does not designate a custodian, the personal representative has authority to name a custodian of the minor who will take title to the minor's interest in the property. Florida Statutes Chapter 710 governs this procedure. The title company will likely require an affidavit as to the minor's age at closing as well.

Speak with a Florida Attorney Familiar with Guardianship Law

Our firm handles Florida guardianships as well as probate cases, and can assist families with transferring a real property interest which has been inherited by a minor. Schedule a free consultation with an attorney familiar with Florida guardianship law today.