Legally speaking, a person under the age of 18 is deemed to have an "incapacity" by virtue of not being an adult. In plain English, this means that minors are unable to manage their own affairs - this is especially so if the minor inherits property from another.
The law allows a guardian of the person of a minor to be appointed to manage for the minor's care. A guardian of the estate of a minor may also be appointed if the minor has (or inherits) an estate.
Appointment of a Testamentary Guardian by Will
Ordinarily a person leaving an inheritance to a minor can make arrangements to name a testamentary guardian for the estate of the child. This is permitted by Virginia Code Section 64.2-1701. This code section references that any such guardian of the estate shall then "have custody and control of the estate committed to his care."
Appointment of a Guardian via the Court
If the estate leaving funds to a minor does not make arrangements for the appointment of a guardian, then the Court will appoint one. This is done pursuant to Virginia Code Section 64.2-1702 and is applied for in the county or city in which the minor resides, or in some circumstances the county or city "in which the minor has any estate."
If appointed through the Court, the guardianship will be supervised by the Commissioner of Accounts, a quasi-judicial official appointed by the Court. The guardian will be required to file an inventory (click here for a sample) and regular accountings (click here for a sample) of the minor's estate.
When a guardianship is established in this manner, there are also a number of rules regarding access to the minor's funds, allowed and prohibited expenditures, and investment of funds. These rules can be complex, so it is always advisable to seek the assistance of experienced counsel if needed. (For an example of some of the rules governing minor's estates, click here.)
Additionally, a bond is typically required. This is an insurance policy that protects the estate. The cost of this policy is paid out of the funds of the estate.