Coogan Law | Coogan Trust Accounts

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

As a parent in Georgia, you may or may not be aware of the Coogan Act. For those parents who may not know what the Coogan Act is, this article should help provide a brief overview of the Act along with external links for you to learn more. When looking up the Coogan Bill (as it is sometimes referred) on Wikipedia you are redirected to The California Child Actor’s Bill. The California Child Actor’s Bill (also known as Coogan Act or Coogan Bill) is a law applicable to child performers, designed to safeguard a portion of their earnings for when they enter adulthood.

Simply put, the Coogan Act came about because Jackie Coogan (in which the law is named after), found himself as an adult, without any earnings from his time as a child actor because his parents spent it. At that time, in California, any money a child earned was the property of the parents.

The Coogan Law itself has gone through changes over the years, though some might say it still needs some improvement. As of now, this Act is enforced in California, New Mexico, New York, and Louisiana. Not Georgia (yet). It states before a child can receive a work permit in a “Coogan” State, you must first prove that minor actor has a Coogan Trust set up so that 15% of earnings can be deposited for the minors future. This put the control of the funds into the hands of the State with the parent acting as a fiduciary until the minor reaches adulthood (21).

WHERE YOU CAN FIND THIS LAW IN CALIFORNIA

For those interested in seeing the California code for the Coogan Act, there are two locations where you can find it.

(a) sections 6750–53 of the California Family Code

(b) section 1700.37 of the California Labor Code

3 REASONS FOR SETTING UP A COOGAN ACCOUNT…

As I stated before, Georgia does not require proof of a Coogan Trust Account prior to getting a work permit for a minor. With that said, I would serious consider opening your son/daughter’s account earlier, rather than later. I hope after my brief explanation, you will agree, sooner is certainly better.

  1. THEY EARNED IT. Honestly, it just makes sense. Minors work extremely hard to become a successful actor. Going to classes, auditions, casting calls, agent meetings, working on set (if they get booked). A worker is worthy of their hire. If they earned it, it should be up to them to spend it how they like (when they are more responsible and need the funds).

Of course, we cannot forget the sacrifice and resources that a parent provides initially when it comes to the success of a minor actor. In the beginning, parents often spend thousands of dollars and hours of their time training, driving, and motivating. The purpose of the Coogan Account is not to prevent a parent from covering cost of the minor when the minor begins to get work. It is to make sure some form of compensation is available when he/she gets older. I plan to write a series about treating your acting like a business. In that article, I will cover ways a parent can intelligently cover the cost for all their Childs acting expense, while simultaneously teaching your son/daughter about money management and basic business principles, especially when it comes to taxation and working for oneself.

  1. THE PRECEDENT ALREADY EXIST. It is true, Georgia does not currently enforce the Coogan Act. But how long do you suppose that is going to last? As the TV and Film industry continues to grow in Georgia, the courts and legislatures will eventually lean on this particular act when it comes to creating protections for minors in Georgia. So, if it is going to happen anyways, and it makes general sense, why not do yourself and your child a favor and set up the account.
  2. AN ACTOR IS NOT LIMITED TO ONE AREA – The film industry is a fluid industry. You never know when a project will require you to be on set outside the state of Georgia. There are still many projects being produced in L.A, NY, and other areas (for various reasons). If you are casted from Atlanta, but then need to travel to any of these areas to work, you are subject to the labor laws of that area.

CONCLUSION

Taking to consideration the fact that it is the right thing to do, combined with the fact that you will need that account if you work in the normal film markets and the precedent will soon make it’s way to Georgia, I felt it was important to share with you, what the Coogan Act is, how it can impact you, and the reasons why you may as well get an Account set up for your son or daughter.

Other Resources

SAG-AFTRA
https://www.sagaftra.org/content/coogan-law

California Child Actors Act – Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Child_Actor’s_Bill

Jackie Coogan – Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackie_Coogan

Original Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9648219

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