Children and their Property

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The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide general information on a wide variety of legal issues in the Province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.

This topic will discuss the property and debt of your children.

Property that is in the name of your children cannot be used by anyone else. For example, if you buy a lottery ticket in your child’s name and the child wins, the money legally belongs to that child. It does not matter that you bought and paid for the ticket. The money must be held in trust for the child until the child reaches the age of 18 years. The Public Trustee will often step in and help you administer the money.

A young person under the age of 18 years cannot legally sign a contract and take on a debt. For example, if your child is 17 years old and joins a record club without your written permission, that club cannot enforce membership dues or any terms of the contract. If the club has sent your son a record, the record should be returned to the club. A contract is enforceable when the young person becomes an adult and continues to follow the terms of the contract signed when the young person was considered a minor under the age of 18 years.