4 Ways Coogan Trusts Changed The Child Acting Industry

Posted by Ned Armand, President of Eastern Point Trust Company on Jan 25, 2016

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Jackie Coogan, the famous child actor robbed by his mother of his career earnings, had inspired the Coogan Law that protects child actor’s earnings from threatening parties.

Key Takeaways


 

Coogan: The Name That Changed It All

The Person Behind The Name

Jackie Coogan starred in Charlie Chaplin’s famous flick called The Kid. From there, Coogan went on to become a very famous child entertainer but he’s best known in the entertainment business for his role in the TV show, The Addams Family. Off the screen, the term Coogan connotes something completely different.

Jackie Coogan Loses Everything

During the 1930s, the child’s earnings remained in their parent’s possession. When Jackie Coogan turned 21 after his father had passed, he wanted to withdraw some of his accumulated career earnings. Unfortunately, Jackie’s parents had depleted the value of his account and he was left with nothing. After being faced with an insurmountable challenge and a lack of money, his only choice was to sue his mother and manager for the lost earnings. The result of this lawsuit would result in one of the most influential laws passed for child entertainers: The Coogan Law.

 

Coogan Law: How It Changed Child Entertainment

In 1939, the Coogan Law was passed as a result of Jackie Coogan’s lawsuit against his mother and manager and it forever changed how child entertainers would accumulate wealth. Here are 4 ways the Coogan Law changed child entertainment:

4 Ways Coogan Trusts Changed Child Acting

 

What Is A Coogan Trust (or Account)?

The Many Names of Coogan Trusts

Coogan Accounts, Trust Accounts, Blocked Trust Accounts, and Coogan Trusts all refer to the account in which a child actor’s wealth is kept by a trusted institution until the child becomes of age to receive his or her assets accumulated throughout their acting career as a child. The reason for the Coogan Law is to protect child actors from potentially harmful parties, who could take advantage of their earnings, illustrated best by the Coogan case.

Establishing a Coogan Account

These types of trusts are fairly simple to establish and are required if a child is earning income through acting. Financial institutions focus on providing services for Coogan Accounts, while Kiss Trust brings affordability, security, and simplicity to such accounts. Setting up a Coogan Trust for soon-to-be child stars to beginner child actors is quick and easy using Kiss Trust’s patented all-inclusive trust solutions. Our trust documents fulfill the needs of families with child entertainers throughout the United States, wherever your child’s career takes you.

Kiss Trust Ends Coogan Trust Services

A decision made by Eastern Point Trust Company, the provider of Kiss Trust, stopped offering Coogan Trust services to retail clients. As of April 2017, Coogan Trusts will no longer be a product available to new customers. As such, existing clients with Coogan Trusts held with EPTC will not be affected.

Revised: 01 June 2017

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Ten Facts You Need to Know About Coogan Trusts

Posted by Ned Armand, President of Eastern Point Trust Company on Dec 5, 2014

There was a time in Hollywood’s history when the financial well-being of a child performer was merely an afterthought.

Kids Come First

Coogan, Coogan Trust, Coogan Account, Kiss Trust

After being left with nothing from his child acting career, Jackie Coogan became the poster child for the rights of minors in the entertainment industry. Jackie’s misfortune sparked the enactment of the California Child Actors Bill of 1939, setting a precedent that now helps protect the interest of minors in the entertainment industry throughout the United States.

  1. While the “Coogan Law” varies by state, the ideals of protecting young entertainers stay generally the same.

  2. According to precedent set by California law via the updated Coogan Law of 2000 “earnings by minors in the entertainment industry are the property of the minor, not the parents.”

  3. Minors cannot legally control their own money, thus any earnings they accrue must be managed via a fiduciary relationship between the child and parent. It then becomes the fiduciary responsibility of the parent to set aside at least 15% of the child’s earnings in a blocked trust or “Coogan Account.”

  4. Coogan Trusts have the sole purpose of protecting the earned assets of child/minor artist/performers from their parents up until the age of majority (age 18) in most states.

  5. While not all states require Coogan accounts for child/minor actors, nearly all talent agencies require a Coogan account be established for the minor in order to render their services.

  6. Coogan accounts are not readily available at every bank.

  7. Any institution providing Coogan accounts needs to satisfy state labor law requirements (which vary by state) in order to establish a Coogan Trust account.

  8. However, Coogan accounts can be affordably and easily created online via web-based trust creation platforms.

  9. The Coogan account expires at age of majority, at which time it distributes the assets to the now adult artist/performer. 

  10. A Coogan account is one of the few tools readily available to protect a young entertainer’s interests. Many organizations such as the Screen Actors Guild provide thorough guidance and educational resources.

 

Kiss Trust Ends Coogan Trust Services

A decision made by Eastern Point Trust Company, the provider of Kiss Trust, stopped offering Coogan Trust services to retail clients. As of April 2017, Coogan Trusts will no longer be a product available to new customers. As such, existing clients with Coogan Trusts held with EPTC will not be affected.

Revised: 01 June 2017

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Tags: Coogan Trust

What You Need To Know About Coogan Laws

Posted by Ned Armand, President of Eastern Point Trust Company on Oct 27, 2014

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A Star is Born

In the rapidly expanding sphere of social media and viral sharing trends the likelihood of a young person being found for their entertainment talents is much higher than it used to be. Whether the individual happens to be a YouTube sensation, has Broadway talent, lands a television commercial, or becomes the next Taylor Swift, ultimately the young entertainer’s parents will need a safe and secure account to protect their child's earned income.

The Kid

Jackie Coogan found stardom at a young age, acting in films alongside Charlie Chaplin. The young Coogan amassed upwards of $4 million (around $50 million in today's dollars). The majority of this wealth was squandered by his parents' reckless spending which wasted away Jackie’s fortune. If a Coogan law had existed in his state at that time, Jackie would have had his very own Coogan Account, and at least 15% of his gross wages would have been saved from his parents' greed.

Coogan Laws

The most common type of account used to protect young performing artists is called a “Coogan Account”. These accounts are aptly named after the late Jackie Coogan. Several states have enacted “Coogan Laws”, which are inspired by the unfortunate theft of Jackie’s childhood acting earnings by his own parents. Coogan laws typically stipulate that at least 15% of a child performer’s earnings are to be placed directly into a Coogan Account. The money is held and invested in the account until the child obtains the age of majority (which is age 21 in most states).

What You Need to Know

Coogan Accounts are now required by the State of California, New York, Louisiana, New Mexico, as well as most talent agencies and production companies around the country to hold the earnings of child entertainers. However, a new problem has arisen that again threatens a child’s earnings. Many families and children have been vulnerable to poorly designed Coogan Accounts that are often laden with high fees, which in some cases total more than the child’s earnings.

What You (Probably) Don’t Know

The most secure form of such accounts are Coogan Trusts, which are overseen and protected by an independent trustee who has a fiduciary duty under state law to ensure that the account fees are reasonable and the use of the money meets the “fiduciary” or “prudent person laws” of the state, as well as all applicable Coogan laws.

Kiss Trust Ends Coogan Trust Services

A decision made by Eastern Point Trust Company, the provider of Kiss Trust, stopped offering Coogan Trust services to retail clients. As of April 2017, Coogan Trusts will no longer be a product available to new customers. As such, existing clients with Coogan Trusts held with EPTC will not be affected.  

Revised: 01 June 2017

Read More

Tags: Coogan Trust

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