For UTMA accounts, many states set a different age of majority.
The age of legal adulthood is called the age of majority
The age of majority in most states is 18 years old
In most states, the age of adulthood is defined separately for custodial accounts
With some exceptions, a minor can't receive the funds in an UTMA account unless she is at least 21 years old
The age of majority is when a child becomes an adult in the eyes of the law. When a person reaches the age of majority, they can gain major legal responsibilities, like the right to vote, join the military, or sign a contract.
The age of majority may sometimes grant other rights, like the ability to buy cigarettes, consent to medical treatment, or get insurance. Every state sets their own age of majority and the specific restrictions as to what the adult cannot do until they reach that age.
The age of majority is 18 in most places, except three states. Alabama and Nebraska set the age of majority to 19 and Mississippi sets it at 21.
See the chart below to compare the age of majority and UTMA account age of majority in every state. UTMA accounts are custodial accounts, meaning that a custodian manages the funds in them until the minor comes of age.
|State||Age of majority||UTMA account age of majority|
|Florida||18||21 (up to 25 if the transferor chooses)|
|Maine||18||18 (up to 21 if the transferor chooses)|
|Michigan||18||18 (up to 21 if the transferor chooses)|
|Mississippi||18 (21 for the purpose of their parent paying child support)||21|
|Nevada||18||18 to 25, depending on how the property was transferred|
|Ohio||18||21 (up to 25 if the transferor chooses)|
|Tennessee||18||21 (up to 25 if the transferor chooses)|
|Virginia||18||21 (up to 25 if the transferor chooses)|
|Washington||18||21 (up to 25 if the transferor chooses)|
As of December 2020, South Carolina still uses the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) to govern its custodial account laws. Although similar, UGMA contains several differences from UTMA.
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Typically, custodial property may be transferred to a person who is 18 years old, but who has not reached her state’s UTMA account age, if one of the following conditions are met:
The transferor holds a debt to the minor.
If no custodian is named or if the named custodian is dead by the time the custodial property is to be transferred, as long as the property is worth less than $10,000.
The property is meant to be transferred during probate, but there is no will or if there is a will, but the will doesn’t authorize the transfer, and the property is worth less than $10,000 and the transfer is in the best interests of the minor.
If the minor has not reached age 18 for the above conditions, then the property will be transferred to a custodial account, but the minor will be able to access the funds when she reaches age 18 instead of the custodial account age.
(If you want to leave your belongings to someone who has not reached the age of majority, you may need a will. Download the new app from Policygenius and start your estate plan today.)
Note that these exceptions vary from state to state, so check your state’s laws if you believe you’re owed money.
Not all rights and responsibilities are granted when a child reaches the age of adulthood. Here are some important things to remember:
The age of majority is not the same as the legal drinking age, which is 21.
The age of majority is not when health insurance coverage under a parent ends, which is 26.
The age of majority is not the same as the age of emancipation, or when a young adult (usually 16 years old) can petition the courts to grant them the same rights as the legal adult.
The age of majority does not necessarily dictate the end of certain parental responsibilities, like child support.
In general, minors, or people who are under the age of the majority, are not legally allowed to own property. If you are a parent who wants to transfer property to your young child, you can open a type of custodial account called an UTMA account. The assets in the UTMA account will transfer to the minor beneficiary when they become an adult.
Sometimes the age of adulthood is defined differently for this type of property. In fact, more than half of states set the age of majority for UTMA higher than their standard age of adulthood — 21 instead of 18. Additionally, some states may allow you to further delay the age to 25 years old. You might keep this in mind when creating an estate plan.
If you wish to distribute your property with a trust, note that you can set the age of distribution for a trust to any age. You can also specify that the trust assets must be distributed when other preconditions are met. If the trust assets are distributed before the minor is allowed to receive them, then they will go into a custodial account.
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Elissa Suh is a personal finance editor at Policygenius in New York City. She has researched and written extensively about finance and insurance since 2019, with an emphasis in esate planning and mortgages. Her writing has been cited by MarketWatch, CNBC, and Betterment.
Elissa has a B.A. in Film Studies from Barnard College.
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