Maxine Aaronson, Attorney at Law
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Estate Planning Newsletter

  • The "Fraud Rectifying" Trust Remedy
    A constructive trust is a remedy imposed by the court when a person has wrongfully attained property. The court basically takes the property away from the wrongful owner and puts it in trust for the rightful owner. In the estate... Read more.
  • A Trustee's Role
    Every trust must have a trustee to properly administer the elements of the trust. Trustees can be individuals, financial institutions or even organizations. A trustee follows the precise instructions of the trustor (or the... Read more.
  • Divorced and Separated Spouses' Right to Inherit
    Most people are aware that a surviving spouse is usually entitled to inherit all or a large portion of the estate of a deceased spouse. Fewer understand the effect on estates if one spouse dies during a legal separation or after a... Read more.
  • Benefits of Purchasing Life Insurance
    There are numerous uses for life insurance. Some are obvious; others are very creative. Some of the most common uses include paying estate taxes, estate administration, inheritance equalizing and many others. Estate Taxes... Read more.
Estate Planning News Links

Cy Pres Doctrine

If you create an estate planning document leaving property to a charity, but after your death the transfer cannot occur, the court may apply the cy pres rule.

The words “cy pres” are French for “as near.” If your charitable wishes cannot be achieved, the court uses this doctrine to attempt to fulfill your wishes as near to your original wishes as possible.

Why a Gift May Be Non-Transferable

Your charitable gift may not be transferable to your chosen charity because that charity:

  • Refuses to accept it
  • Could not be identified
  • No longer exists on the date of your death

Additionally, a gift may not be possible due to the fact that you:

  • Identified more than one charity in an ambiguous manner
  • Failed to name a specific charity as recipient
  • Failed to specify a charitable purpose

Under cy pres, when your charitable gift cannot be transferred to the organization specified in your trust, it may be given to a related charity that has a related charitable purpose.

Limited Application

The cy pres rule typically will not be applied unless there is no way your particular charitable purpose is possible. Courts are reluctant to second guess intent, so the rule may not be applied if you have not clearly articulated a charitable intent.