When parents first get their child started in the entertainment industry, they are deluged with information regarding work permits, labor laws, and the infamous Coogan Law. KidsInTheBiz.com will deal in-depth with the Coogan Law in a future article, including how to open an account for your child. For now, however, let’s take a look at the millions of dollars waiting to be discovered by past and present child actors.
You may have seen the reports on the news for “Unclaimed Money” web sites that are run by the state. By visiting these sites, you can search for money and property that was seized by the state because they didn’t know how to contact the person who was entitled to it. This is similar to the Unclaimed Coogan Account database.
In its simplest form, the Coogan Law was enacted to put aside a percentage of a child’s earnings from their show business career into a special bank account that was “untouchable” until the child reached 18 or 21 years of age. Unfortunately, for the first 60 years of the law’s existence, it mainly applied to long-term, multi-picture contracts which became fewer and fewer. It did not cover commercials, day players on episodics, or any small roles.
The law has been revised several times, and as mentioned, we will be featuring a series of articles on the new law in later articles. It is complex, and full of language that can be confusing. It was because of this confusion that millions of dollars in Coogan Accounts lay abandoned and unclaimed.
The Actor’s Fund of America has been charged with providing a database for the unclaimed Coogan money at its web site, http://www.unclaimedcoogan.org. By providing any part of a name, you can search the database for funds held by The Actor’s Fund, and also submit claims for the held money.
Several famous child actors can be found in the database – the result of Coogan Accounts being set up at a time when their career was just getting started – and then forgotten. The best way to make sur eyour child’s name never appears on this list is to keep your contact information with your union current, and to be informed about the Coogan Law, and when you need to start an account.
An article about Coogan Accounts will be available on this web site shortly.