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Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about Illinois custodianships and the Illinois Uniform Transfers to Minors Act.

What is a custodianship?

The Illinois Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (760 ILCS 20, et. seq.) allows one to transfer property to a minor, subject to the management of a custodian. A custodianship in Illinois is a relationship whereby an adult is given the power to manage a particular piece of property on behalf of a minor until the minor reaches age 21. The transfer is an irrevocable gift, and the minor receives legal title to the custodial property. The minor’s guardian will have no authority with respect to the property.

Who can be appointed custodian?

The appointed custodian may be the transferor, another adult, or a trust company.

How is a custodianship created?

The method of transferring property to a custodianship varies based on the type of property.    It must be recorded or registered wherever transfers of that property type are documented. Typically, the transfer is made by the same method as any other transfer of that type of property, except that the document conveying the property must transfer the property to the custodian “as custodian for [the name of the minor] under the Illinois Uniform Transfers to Minors Act.” In addition, transfers of real estate require some additional language whereby the custodian signs to accept the transfer.

What are the responsibilities of a custodian?

The custodian is responsible for managing, investing, and reinvesting the property and must act with regard to investments as would “a prudent person of discretion and intelligence who is seeking a reasonable income and the preservation of his capital.” A custodian who does not take a fee for its services is only liable for losses from bad faith, gross negligence, or failure to invest according to the “prudent person” standard.

What are the powers of a custodian?

In addition to the power to invest the property as the custodian finds prudent, the custodian may transfer the property to the minor or make payments for the benefit of the minor as the custodian sees fit. The custodian may also establish a trust for the benefit of the minor. 

What is the difference between custodianship and guardianship?

A guardianship is overseen by the court and subject to stricter oversight and limitations than a custodianship. The responsibilities of a guardian for the well-being of the minor are also typically broader than those of a custodian, who may only be responsible for the management of one piece of property. 

Custodianship property and income tax

Because the minor is the owner of the property in a custodianship, the minor is taxed on the income on the property whether or not the property is distributed to them. The exception is when the income on the custodial property is used to satisfy a parent’s child support obligation, in which case the income would be taxable to the parent.

Custodianship property and estate tax

If the donor of the custodial property is also the custodian, the custodial property will be subject to estate tax in the donor’s estate. Generally, the custodial property is subject to estate tax on the minor’s estate at the death of the minor.

How is a custodial estate terminated? 

In Illinois, a custodial estate is terminated, and the property will transfer to the minor or their estate when the minor turns either 18 or 21, depending on how the property was conveyed to the custodial estate or when the minor passes away.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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