Weinstein & Randisi
Phone:585-310-1578
Toll free:800-768-1780

Resize the Content Text

Understanding cy-pres doctrine and how it applies to trusts

Many people create charitable trusts as part of their estate planning portfolios. Generally, a charitable trust is an allocation of assets that provides funding for certain types of charitable causes. For example, a person with a lifetime interest in classical music might designate a portion of their estate to provide perpetual funding for the benefit of a local symphony hall. Another example might be an avid birdwatcher setting aside funds to preserve a particular type of endangered bird.

In both of those examples the individuals creating those trusts are known as settlors. Alternatively, the organizations who receive those funds are known as beneficiaries. Sometimes trusts run into difficulty when situations arise that frustrate the original intentions of the settlor or otherwise makes it impossible to carry out the settlor's wishes in accordance with a trust. Using the above-mentioned examples, imagine if a symphony hall that a settlor had designated to receive funding from one's trust burned down. Or consider what might happen to a trust formed to safeguard an endangered bird if that creature should later become extinct.

Fortunately, a legal doctrine exists to help remedy these types of situations. Cy-pres is a term used when a court can interpret settlors' intentions for their trusts. Usually, courts will do this in an attempt to apply a settlor's funds in a way "as nearly like" the settlor's original purpose. For example, a court may believe that an opera lover might have wanted to rebuild a destroyed symphony hall. Similarly, a court may determine that funds once earmarked to save endangered birds might be diverted to preserve the memory of an extinct bird through the creation of a bird museum.

It's important for you to know that sometimes individuals may attempt to use the cy-pres doctrine in a manner in which the original settlor might have disagreed with. In those cases a trustee can challenge the merit of diverting those assets. In some cases where cy-pres doctrine is not practical a court might revert those funds to the settlor's estate where it would be subject to the settlor's successors in interests. This is another reason why consulting with a New York estate planning attorney may be wise. An attorney can help you defend against or support cy-pres actions in accordance with your opinion as trustee.

Source: National Paralegal College, "Modification of Charitable Trusts—The Cy Pres Doctrine," accessed June 29, 2015

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
  • I wanted to write to say how pleased my wife and I were at your professional handling of our estate planning and preparation of new wills. We were put at ease by your visit to our home for an interview and were pleased that you listened to us and captured the things that we felt were important.

    --Robert and Christine Simonson, Fairport
  • In order to finalize the documents we came to your office and were greeted in a very professional manner and we could not have asked for finer service. We left with copies of everything we needed and feel very confident our needs have been met. Thanks again. We will surely recommend you should the opportunity arise.

    — Christine and Robert Simonson, Fairport
  • I have been working with Weinstein & Randisi for about two years now. Elizabeth Randisi, through a very thorough process, has helped my wife and me determine what is really important in our lives. Thus, we were able to draft a living will that reflected our most important values regarding our estate.

    --David and Ajia Cherry, Fairport
  • I would like to give a testimony for Elizabeth Randisi, an estate attorney with Weinstein & Randisi. Her knowledge of wills and estate planning was clearly demonstrated in her presentation to us. Realizing our need for a will, my husband and I went to see Elizabeth.

    --Kathy and Gary Gray, Webster
  • Filing for Medicaid is never an easy or fun process. However, working with the Weinstein & Randisi firm made the process simple and streamlined. We were able to obtain all files and records regarding Medicaid enrollment within a few days using specially prepared checklists and verbiage recommended by our assigned paralegal.

    --Ajia and David Cherry, Fairport
Awarded Top 50 Estate Planning Blog
Email Us For a Response

How Can We Help You?

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

Blog Feed

Blog

Weinstein & Randisi - estate planning

290 Linden Oaks, Ste. 200
Rochester, NY 14625

Toll Free: 800-768-1780
Phone: 585-310-1578
Rochester Law Office Map

Map

Call us now for a free, 100% confidential consultation: