CHAPTER 5
 

PROCEEDINGS
INVOLVING MINORS

 

 
 
 
 

G.

Distribution to or on Behalf of a Minor without the Appointment of a Guardian
     
   
1.

Small Estates

     
   

The Court has the authority to order the maintenance, conveyance, or distribution of a minor’s assets without the appointment of a guardian where the entire real and personal estate has a net value of $25,000 or less. See PEF Code §§5101 and 5102. The procedure for obtaining Court approval of such disposition of a minor’s estate is set forth in Phila.O.C. Rule 12.5.D. In practice, the Orphans’ Court will not favorably entertain a petition brought under this Rule where the relief requested is for distribution of cash to the minor or his parents, unless a nominal amount is involved. It is recommended that the standard guardian procedure be employed in this situation. However, it may be appropriate to utilize this procedure in certain situations, such as where a minor owns an insignificant fractional interest in a parcel of real estate which has been sold, and the sale is subject to approval by the Court.

     
2.   Minor as Civil Suit Plaintiff - Blocked Accounts
     
    No compromise, settlement or discontinuance may be made in a lawsuit to which a minor is a party without Court approval. The procedure for obtaining Court approval is by petition in the Civil Trial Division of the Court of Common Pleas. This procedure is governed by Pa.R.C.P. 2039(b) which authorizes the Court to order payments of $25,000 and less to the minor’s natural guardian, the guardian of his or her person, the person maintaining the minor, or the minor. In Philadelphia, the procedural requirements which must be followed in each case are set forth in Philadelphia Civil Rule 165. This rule also authorizes unlimited payments to blocked accounts (the amount in each account not to exceed the F.D.I.C. insurance limits) which prohibit withdrawal prior to majority in the absence of Court order. See PEF Code §5103. Reference to the definition of “guardian” set forth in Pa.R.C.P. 2026 is recommended before attempting to proceed under Pa.R.C.P. 2039.

The foregoing procedure has the advantages of simplicity and cost savings. It is also appropriate for short term situations and those where the amounts involved are small. However, it is imperative in each case that trial counsel consider the alternative of proceeding in the Orphans’ Court to have a guardian appointed to receive the litigation proceeds. This is particularly true where the award is large, of significant duration, or allowances are likely to be necessary. The procedure under Pa.R.C.P. 2039(b)(1) and (2) is discretionary with the Court. In many instances the Trial Division Judge will require a Court-appointed guardian before entering an order for payment. It is best to consult with the Judge before deciding which procedure to adopt.

 

 


 
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