The age of majority

The age of majority is 18. Reaching majority means that a person may freely dispose of his or her assets and enter into legal transactions as long as this is done within the law.


Persons under 18 who are not married are minors. They may not freely dispose of their assets or enter into agreements whereby they surrender an asset or whereby they incur, transfer or cancel debt. A minor may not freely enter into a contract of employment.

Although a person is a minor, he or she may dispose of money earned after having reached the age of 15. This money may be earnings or donations or inheritance.


In the case of children and young people under 18, the person who has custody automatically takes on the role of guardian unless that person is under guardianship. In the case of joint custody, both parents act as guardians. 

Adults under guardianship


Adults may be placed under guardianship, if there is a definite need for this. The State Administration decides whether a person should be placed under guardianship. The reason may be e.g. mental illness, severe dementia, mental retardation or other types of impairment that make the person unable to look after his or her personal and/or financial affairs. There must always be a specific need for a guardian. Guardianship may be limited so that it only covers certain financial or personal matters.

Being placed under guardianship does not necessarily mean deprivation of legal capacity in so far as guardianship only covers the areas specified in each case. Whether a person should be deprived of legal capacity is decided by the local court.


Co-guardianship means that the person who is under guardianship must take decisions in consultation with another person, the co-guardian. A co-guardian may be appointed if a person needs assistance to manage his or her assets or take care of financial affairs due to lack of experience, impaired health or similar problems. This person must him/herself request a co-guardian, and nobody can be forced into co-guardianship. 

Request for guardianship

A person may request guardianship or may request changes to or the ending of guardianship. The following persons may apply for another person to be placed under guardianship:

  • the person’s spouse, children, parents, siblings or other close relatives
  • the guardian or a special guardian (to be appointed, for instance, if the guardian is disqualified)
  • the local authority or the chief of police

Appointed guardian

Persons to be placed under guardianship cannot choose their own guardian, but their wishes are taken into account. Often the guardian is a close relative. If no one in the family can or is willing to act as guardian, a guardian may be appointed from the State Administration’s list of professional guardians.

The guardian’s responsibility

Guardians are supervised by the State Administration. The State Administration must approve the guardian’s handling of the minor’s assets. The State Administration must further approve the acquisition or the sale of real property.

The guardian’s fee

A professional guardian may receive a fee if this is considered reasonable. The person under guardianship must pay the fee unless this person’s earnings or assets are considered to be insignificant.

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Senest opdateret 29. jun 2017
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