What is the 'Coogan Law'?
The California 'Coogan Law' was enacted in 1939 to protect child entertainers from financial abuse. The law resulted from the experience of silent picture star Jackie Coogan who earned millions as a child, but was left broke at the age of 18 because his parents had squandered his earnings. Recent amendments to the Coogan Law include Senate Bill 1162 and Senate Bill 210, which were passed to better ensure that a sufficient portion of a child's earnings under specific entertainment, sports and similar contracts is set aside in trust and preserved for the child's future.
Is it legal to transfer an existing Coogan Account from another bank to the Credit Union?
Yes. According to California Family Code (Section 6753), a Coogan account owner can transfer funds to the financial institution of their choice provided that the funds transferred shall continue to be held in trust. You should send a Coogan Transfer Letter to your current bank to let them know you are transferring the funds to AFTRA-SAG FCU. Transfer time is dependent on the responsiveness of the other financial institution. If you need assistance, contact the AFTRA-SAG Coogan Desk at (818) 562-3400 ext. 3494.
Are 'Coogan Accounts' set up at AFTRA-SAG FCU in California also acceptable in New York?
Yes. As long as the Child Performer Trust account meets the standards required by a New York State UTMA (Uniform Transfer to Minors Act) Trust Account or a New York State UGMA (Uniform Gift to Minors Act) Trust account, it does not matter where the account is actually located.
I believe some of my child's income may have been transferred to the Actors' Fund lost money account. How can I be sure?
The Actors' Fund has established an Unclaimed Coogan Beneficiary web site with a searchable database of young performers for whom they are holding money. If you find your name or the name of your child, click on beneficiary form and follow the instructions.
What does my child need to do to claim her Coogan funds when she turns 18?
If you provided the Credit Union with a certified copy of your child’s birth certificate when the account was opened, your child can present a valid drivers license, state ID card, military ID card, or Passport to claim the funds. If a certified copy of the birth certificate was not provided when opening the account, your child will need to provide one together with the above identification in order to claim the Coogan funds.
My child did a few jobs but has lost interest in acting. Will the funds be escheated to the State if we don’t make future deposits to the Coogan account?
Until a child reaches age 18, the funds in a Coogan account will not be escheated (surrendered) to the State due to lack of activity. Once the child reaches the age of 18, however, Coogan accounts will be escheated to the State if the account is dormant for more than three years.
Where can I go to learn more about Coogan Accounts and other benefits or requirements for young performers?
We recommend a few organizations not affiliated with AFTRA-SAG Federal Credit Union that can help answer questions and concerns about how to manage your child’s career. Of course, you are always welcome to contact us if we can be of any assistance.