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What Is a Age of majority? Definition, Uses and Importance.

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As recognized in law, the age of majority is the beginning point of a person’s adulthood. Once an individual gets to this point in their life, they will no longer be considered as a minor. Thus, they are assumed to be legal and can now control each decision, action, and other responsibility that comes with living their life.

Once a person gets to the age of majority, the control and legal responsibilities their parents and guardians once had over them are terminated. 

In most countries, the age of majority is 18 years. However, a particular jurisdiction can decide to set the age higher or lower. The term “majority” in this case refers to being of a bigger age than a minor.

Even “age of majority means” means to confer adulthood on a person, some jurisdictions may choose to call it another name. 

People that are not yet in the majority are called minors and so, can be denied some rights and privileges like the right to buy alcohol, vote, sign a contract, etc.

This article points to some of the most important areas of the age of majority that you never got to know about.

Importance of age of majority

Age of majority is important in probate because it allows an individual to have the same type of rights and privileges as other adult members of society. The most common reasons for use of age of majority is in regards to their trust or a 529B plan for college, credit cards and other financial responsibilities.

A student who is a minor can borrow from the federal student loan programs, even though they are underage because the Higher Education Act has preempted the defense of infancy for federal student loans since 1986 [20 USC 1091a(b)(2) and (3)].

By the age of majority, they are bestowed with the responsibility to get married and take other major decisions regarding their health, finances, and education.

What does the age of majority stand for in probate?

The age of majority in probate is when an individual is considered old enough by the law to directly receive assets that have been passed down by their deceased parent or guardian. At this age, they are considered mature and responsible to receive the assets and they don’t need to be governed by the court. Once someone reaches the age of majority they are able to receive a probate advance if their parents have passed away and they are waiting for their beneficial interest in the estate. It would be harder for someone that just reached the age of majority to receive an estate loan since credit history and earnings need to be proved to receive a loan.

How is age of majority structured?

One has to get to a certain age as specified by the law of their state- it can range between 18 to 21, depending on the state. After getting to that age and acquiring legal capacity, the new adult is allowed more decision making power as it pertains to their educations and trust.

It also means that just like other adults,  they will have to serve equal punishment or penalties that come with going against the law of the state.

Age of Majority is different from the age of sexual consent. That’s because the age of sexual consent specifically refers to a time in an individual’s life when they have become legally fit to agree to sexual acts. 

If an adult goes ahead to engage in any form of sexual activity with some below the age of consent, they may be charged with statutory rape or child sexual abuse.

Lifespan of age of majority

As long as the person has gotten to the specified age according to the law, the lifespan of the age of majority will last until the person reaches the specified age under the law. The age of majority is the age at which a minor child legally becomes an adult. The age of majority varies by state.

Age of majority by state

StateAge of MajorityAge of Trust Termination
District of Columbia1818
New Hampshire1821
New Jersey1821
New Mexico1821
New York1821
North Carolina1821
North Dakota1821
Puerto Rico21N/A
Rhode Island1821
South Carolina1818
South Dakota1818
West Virginia1821

How is age of majority used?

As mentioned earlier, young adults who just attained the age of majority are allowed to exercise all rights, provided that they aren’t disabled. This means that, at this age, they can apply for probate loans, probate advances, or inheritance advances.

Synonyms for age of majority

Other terms that you can use to qualify the age of majority include:

  • Legal age
  • Lawful age
  • Age of consent
  • Come of age
  • Full age
  • Age of discretion

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Age of Majority

Q: Why is it called the age of majority?

A: It’s called the age of majority because that is when children become legal adults. What does this mean? That he can now be in full control of their actions and decisions. At this point in their lives, no parent or guardian will be saddled with the responsibility of catering for the legal adult.

As the term implies, they now have a lot of years to live an adult life.

Q: What is the age of majority in most states?

A: The correct age in several states, especially in the United States, is 18 years old.

Q: What happens when students with disabilities reach the age of majority?

A: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) can grant the state authorities permission to transfer their rights to education decisions. These rights are given to students who have attained the age of majority but lack the resources to attend a school.

At the end of the day, IDEA or any other public agency involved will notify the student and their parents of the new development.

Q: What happens to a custodial account when the child turns 18?

A: After the minor turns 18, the state law ultimately recognizes them for being legal. So, the custodian of the child’s account will have to transfer the full ownership to the original beneficiary (the child). 

Here, the beneficiary goes ahead to claim total control of the money and their benefits attached. If the minor dies before getting to the age of majority, the account, and its content automatically become a part of his or her estate.

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