By: David Wooddell, Barbizon USA
One popular question we hear is “Do I really have to get a Coogan Account? I don’t even know what that is…”
If you are also wondering what a Coogan Account is, it’s a blocked trust account. This account is a court-administered trust fund designed to protect the earnings of child actors, athletes and other child performers until they become adults. A parent or guardian has no control over the account as the trustee. Since a minor cannot legally control their own money, there are laws in place to govern their earnings and create a fiduciary relationship between the parent and the child. This law requires 15% of all minors’ earnings to be set-aside in a Coogan Account. These blocked trust accounts are required by the State of California, New York, Louisiana and New Mexico. Any jobs shooting in those markets require talent to have a Coogan account.
Now you may be wondering why do we have to have a law for this and how did it get its name? John Leslie “Jackie” Coogan was an American actor who began his career as a child actor when silent films were popular. His role on Charlie Chaplin’s classic The Kid made him one of the first known child stars in film history. Coogan made close to $4,000,000 throughout his career. His mother and stepfather recklessly spent his wealth. His mother felt that because his fortune was earned as a child under her care, she and her husband were entitled to spend the money however they saw fit. The Coogan Law went into effect to stop parents from taking advantage of their children’s well-earned finances.
As a minor in the entertainment business, it is required to have a Coogan account. Young talent may apply for a working Coogan account at the following locations:
- SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union
- Actors Federal Credit Union
- Bank of the West
- City National Bank
- First Entertainment Credit Union
- Morgan Stanley / Smith Barney
- Union Bank of California
- Wells Fargo