Coogan Law California
The history of the Coogan Law has been summarized in legislative documents.
"The Coogan Law was enacted as former Civil Code sections 36.1 and 36.2 in 1938 in response to childhood star Jackie Coogan's plight. Even though he earned millions as a child, Coogan was surprised to find out when he reached adulthood that he was flat broke, because his mother and stepfather spent all his money--legally. ... Thus, the Coogan Law was passed in order to preserve a portion of the minor's earnings for the minor's use when he or she reaches the age of majority." (Sen. Rules Com., Off. of Sen. Floor Analyses, Unfinished Business Analysis of Sen. Bill No. 1162 (1999-2000 Reg. Sess.) as amended Aug. 18, 1999, pp. 6-7.)
Inadequacies in the statutory scheme, however, resulted in additional abuses of the finances of such child actors as Shirley Temple, Macauly Culkin, Lee Aaker, and Gary Coleman--all of whose parents left the minors with at best only a small percentage of what they earned during their careers. (Sen. Rules Com., Off. of Sen. Floor Analyses, 3d reading analysis of Sen. Bill No. 1162 (1999-2000 Reg. Sess.) as amended Aug. 18, 1999, p. 3.)
The Legislature amended the Coogan Law in 1999, 2003, and 2013. (Stats. 1999, ch. 940, 2, 3, 5, pp. 6859, 6860; Stats. 2003, ch. 667, 1-3, pp. 5137-5144; Stats. 2013, ch. 102, 1; see generally Din, Chapter 667: Instituting Proper Trust Funds and Safeguarding the Earnings of Child Performers from Dissipation by Parents, Guardians and Trustees (2004) 35 McGeorge L.Rev. 473.)
The Coogan Law provides that for a contract pursuant to which a minor is employed or agrees to render artistic or creative services, the minor's employer must set aside 15 percent "of the minor's gross earnings pursuant to the contract" in trust "in an account or other savings plan, and preserved for the benefit of the minor." ( 6752, subd. (b)(1); see id., subds. (a), (b)(4).)
At least one of the minor's parents or legal guardians must "be appointed as trustee of the funds," unless the superior court determines that the appointment "of a different individual, individuals, entity, or entities" is required in the best interests of the minor. ( 6752, subds. (b)(2), (c)(1).)
The Coogan Law provides that within seven business days after execution of the contract, the trustee must establish a trust account, "known as a Coogan Trust Account," at a "bank, savings and loan institution, credit union, brokerage firm, or company registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940, that is located in the State of California." ( 6753, subd. (a); see id., subd. (d).)
Within 10 business days after commencement of employment, the trustee must "provide the minor's employer with a true and accurate photocopy of the trustee's statement pursuant to Section 6753." ( 6752, subds. (b)(3), (c)(2); see 6753, subd. (c).)
The trustee must also include identifying information of the financial institution and account, and any "additional information needed by the minor's employer to deposit" the set-aside funds into the account. ( 6753, subd. (c); see 6752, subd. (b)(3).)
The trustee must also attach to the statement a copy "of any information received from the financial institution confirming the creation of the account." ( 6753, subd. (c).)
Within 15 business days after receiving, inter alia, the trustee's statement, the minor's employer must deposit into the Coogan Trust Account "15 percent of the minor's gross earnings pursuant to the contract." ( 6752, subds. (b)(4), (c)(3).)
The parent or guardian "acting in his or her fiduciary relationship, shall, with the earnings and accumulations of the minor under the contract, pay all liabilities incurred by the minor under the contract, including, but not limited to, payments for taxes on all earnings, including taxes on the amounts set aside under subdivisions (b) and (c) of this section ... ." ( 6752, subd. (d).)
As 15 percent of the gross earnings is deposited in the Coogan Trust Account, it follows that these liabilities would be payable out of the remaining 85 percent of the earnings.
The Coogan Law also specifies that "upon petition of the parent or legal guardian, the minor ... or the trustee or trustees, on good cause shown," the superior court may "order that the trust be amended or terminated." ( 6752, subds. (b)(7), (c)(5).)
Until the minor becomes 18 years old, or a declaration of emancipation of the minor is issued, "no withdrawal by the beneficiary or any other individual, individuals, entity, or entities may be made of funds on deposit in trust without written order of the superior court ... ." ( 6753, subd. (b).)