Whenever a minor (a child not of majority age of 18 years) receives proceeds from a lawsuit or is named as a beneficiary in a Will (unless it is in Trust), or receives money from an intestate estate, or is the benefactor of an insurance policy, the proceeds over five thousand dollars must be deposited with the Surrogate’s Court and placed in the Surrogate’s Intermingled Trust Fund (SITF), also known as Surrogate’s Intermingled Minors’ Account (SIMA).
A person(s) must make application to the Surrogate’s Court for appointment as Guardian(s) of Minor’s Property. The parents have the first right to make application for guardianship. In order to make application, this person(s) must bring in the minor’s original or certified copy of the birth certificate, a Social Security card and a signed copy of the Order, if receiving funds from a lawsuit.
The person(s) will sign an Application for Guardianship Property, Authorization To Accept Service of Process and Guardianship Acceptance Property. The guardian(s) will receive from the Surrogate’s Court Letters of Guardianship Property and a Guardianship Short Certificate Minor, if needed. This allows the guardian(s) to represent the interests of the minor in respect to the minor’s property, to petition the Superior Court for emergent use of the minor’s fund and to receive monthly statements of the minor’s account.
The money in its entirety will be released to the minor upon his/her reaching majority age of 18 years.
Surrogate Court is the appropriate court to file for guardianship of a child when:
- the child is 17 years old or younger, not married and not in military service
- one or both of a child’s parents are unable to care for the child AND/OR
- the child has inherited or was awarded assets (for example: property, money)
Surrogate Court may appoint a guardian for a child up until the child turns 18, unless the child agrees to continue the guardianship until they turn 21. If the child is age 14 or older, they must consent to the appointment of a guardian.
Of Person and Property
There are instances in estate settlements where a person(s) will have to make application for both the Guardianship of Person and Property of a minor.
The procedure is the same as given in the above two sections.