LEGAL CORNER: Can a 16-year-old business owner bypass the age requirement to enter into contracts?

Published: May. 25, 2023 at 2:33 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Legal Corner answers viewers’ civil legal questions.

QUESTION: I am 16 years old and have started a business in which I am doing very well. However, because of my age, potential customers are reluctant to sign a contract for my services. My parents are concerned about becoming responsible for any liability and possibly being sued. I know I could really do better if I could bypass this age requirement of 18 to enter into contracts. Is there anything in the law that can help me?

ANSWER: Yes, there is, it is called emancipation. A court may order, for good cause, the full or limited emancipation of a minor 16 years of age or older.  Good cause for emancipation may be that the minor needs to make “juridical acts.” For example, the minor may operate a business and needs the right to contract with vendors or handle his/her own finances.

Full judicial emancipation confers all effects of majority (meaning total adult responsibility) on the person emancipated unless otherwise provided by law. Limited judicial emancipation confers the effects of majority specified in the judgment of limited emancipation (only for business purposes) unless otherwise provided by law. (CCA 336).

Hope this helps. All the best with your business!

QUESTION: Both of our parents are deceased and we are working through the succession. Our concern is that our adult brother receives supplemental security income and other government benefits such as Medicaid. However, if he inherits from our parents, these benefits may be discontinued. Is there a way to protect him from losing his benefits and receive his inheritance, which is intended to take care of him?

ANSWER: Yes, a Special Needs Trust is what is needed. A special needs trust is established to prevent people from losing benefits from certain government programs after receiving a settlement or inheritance. As you stated, an influx of wealth or income can make someone ineligible for benefits from Supplementary Security Income (SSI), Veterans Aid and Attendance, Medicaid, and government housing. A curator, or legal guardian will need to be appointed if he is unable to make decisions for himself. There are many other issues to be considered in taking care of a special needs person, so please consult with an attorney on this matter. (R.S. 9:2011 et seq)

QUESTION: I live in Cameron. Why is there no mayor or city council here? There are only police jurors.

ANSWER: It is because Cameron is unincorporated and is considered a town, meaning that it is larger than a village but smaller than a city. The mayor shall be an elector of a municipality - a city or town that has corporate status and local government. Since Cameron is unincorporated, it must file a petition with the state and meet the requirements given in the law for qualifying for corporate status. (R.S 33: §384 Qualifications of mayor & R.S. 33 et seq)