The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide general information on legal issues within the Province of Alberta. The purpose of this topic is to inform you of your legal rights and responsibilities. This is not legal advice. If you require legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.
This topic will discuss the property and debt of children.
Property that is registered in the name of a child cannot be used by anyone else, including their parents. A child is a person under the age of 18 years of age.
For example, if a lottery ticket is purchased in a child’s name and the child wins, the money legally belongs to that child. It does not matter that an adult bought the ticket. The money must be held in trust for the child until they reach 18 years of age. The Public Trustee will often help administer the money.
Debts of Children
A person under 18 years of age cannot legally sign a contract and take on a debt. A contract can become enforceable when the child becomes an adult and continues to follow the terms of the contract signed when they were a child (under the age of 18).
For example, if your child is 17 years old and joins a DVD 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 DVD, the DVD should be returned to the club.
Where a child under the age of 18 misleads another person into believing they are over the age of 18, the child will not be allowed to benefit from their deception.
Dial-A-Law is a Calgary Legal Guidance public service project funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.