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I have a question about the UTMA rules. If the minor (age 19) gets emancipated through marriage, does the original custodian get removed? Or how does emancipation effect the UTMA account?

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In New York state, the normal age of majority for most matters is 18. Parents no longer have a legal responsibility to care for the adult child, and the adult is able to enter into contracts herself without any approval of the parents. There is no emancipation needed, through marriage or any other process. When you are 18, you are an adult.

The UTMA does not follow this age, however. The UTMA age of majority in New York state is 21. The UTMA is a trust that follows very specific rules and does not require formal, custom trust documents to be drawn up by an attorney. When the UTMA is set up, a custodian is named. This custodian is often the parents, but could be anyone. The custodian is required to invest and/or spend the money only for the benefit of the child, who is the one that actually owns the assets inside the UTMA. Once the "child" reaches the UTMA age of majority (21 in New York state), the assets are under her full control.

Despite the fact that the person we are talking about is a married adult, the assets in her UTMA, which she does own, are under the control of the custodian until she reaches 21. If she wants to spend it on something before then, she will need the permission of the custodian. If the custodian is mishandling the assets in the UTMA, she can sue the custodian, and the custodian will be required to pay back whatever he took and/or face criminal prosecution. On her 21st birthday, she has complete access to whatever is in the account.

  • I’ve been getting mixed answers. Some have told me “emancipation” through marriage meant the minor no longer needed a custodian on their UTMA account. This is all so confusing! Thank you! – NYmom Feb 22 at 14:56

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