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SETTLEMENT CLAIMS FOR FLORIDA MINOR CHILDREN: WHEN IS COURT APPROVAL REQUIRED?

By: Phillip B. Rarick, Miami Probate Attorney

Executive Summary

Failure to obtain court approval under Florida guardianship law of a pre-suit structured settlement exceeding $15,000 on behalf of a Florida minor child could result in the settlement being disaffirmed by the minor on reaching majority or within a reasonable time thereafter. See F.S. 744.387(3)(a)

A.        Who is a Minor Person in Florida?

A “minor” is a person under 18 years of age whose disabilities of age have not been removed by marriage or otherwise.  F.S. 744.102(13).  During minority, the mother and father are the natural guardians of their own children, either natural or adopted. F.S. 744.301(1)

B.        Settlement of Claims for Minor Children

The settlement of claims on behalf of minors is governed by F.S. 744.301, 744.3025 and 744.387.  The statutes make a distinction between settlement of claims under or above a $15,000 threshold.  (Note: Prior to April 29, 2002, the threshold was $5,000.)

1.         Settlements Of $15,000 Or Less

 Court approval is not required.  The natural guardian is authorized to settle such claims. 

2.         Settlements  Of Over $15,000

Court approval is required for  all settlements over $15,000.  Therefore, a  legal guardianship will be required.  F.S. 744.387(2).

3.         Appointment Of Guardian Ad Litem For Minor

Appointment of a guardian ad litem to represent the minor’s interest is required if the gross settlement amount is $50,000 or more.  If the amount is between $15-50,000, a guardian ad litem may need to be appointed.

Note:  For more information about Florida Guardianship see: Florida Guardianship Quick Reference

C.  Conclusion

Failure to obtain court approval under F.S. 744.387(3)(a) of a pre-suit structured settlement exceeding $15,000 on behalf of Florida minor child could result in the settlement being disaffirmed by the minor on reaching majority or within a reasonable time thereafter. 

The attorneys at Rarick, Beskin & Garcia Vega provide guardianship planning and administration.  For more information or a good faith estimate of the legal fees and costs, please contact Phillip B. Rarick, Miami Probate Attorney,  at (305) 556-5209 or e-mail prarick@raricklaw.com.

Special Note

The information on this blog is of a general nature and is not intended to answer any individual’s legal questions. Do not rely on information presented herein to address your individual legal concerns. If you have a legal question about your individual facts and circumstances, you should consult an experienced Miami probate attorney. Your receipt of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship and the legal privileges inherent therein.

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