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Q & A: Can a minor own a business?
Illustration by Judd Abinuman
Jan 14, 2013
Q: I am a 19-year old married female. My sister is 17. We have just recently been orphaned. To earn some income, we've talked about putting up a business of our own. We both love to bake cakes and breads and we have long dreamed of reopening the small bakeshop that our parents used to operate in front of our house. Can we do it despite our ages? Do I have to get my husband's permission? What about my sister? Since our parents are both gone, who will she have to ask permission from? I can't run the bakeshop without her; between the two of us, she's the better pastry and bread maker.
A: Anyone over 18 years of age who is not otherwise disqualified by law may put up a business. Disqualified persons are those who are in prison or have been declared bankrupt, among others. I am sure you are neither of those, so go ahead and fulfill your dream of running your own bakeshop.
Since you have already attained the age of majority, you do not need to ask permission from anybody, not even from your husband. This is because under the law, any married person may exercise any legitimate profession, occupation, business, or activity without the consent of his or her spouse.
On the other hand, since your sister is still a minor, she may engage in business only through a guardian. As her closest next of kin, that guardian might as well be you. So for your first step, get a court order declaring you as your sister's guardian. After that, get business licenses and permits in your own names; your parents' licenses and permits may have already expired, and it would be better to operate under new licenses/permits issued in your own names anyway.
I assume you already have all the necessary equipment at your parents' old bakeshop. So, after doing all the preliminary steps above, go ahead and make your dream come true. Good luck!
Reeza Singzon is a lawyer specializing in civil, commercial, and labor law. Before becoming a lawyer, she worked in media for more than 10 years, writing and producing news programs for TV and working as an editor and columnist for a newspaper. For questions or comments, Atty. Reeza may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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