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Estate Planning Newsletter

  • 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.
  • Making Charitable Bequests with Non-U.S. Assets
    Taxpayers who make contributions to qualified charitable organizations are entitled to a tax benefit in the form of a charitable deduction on their income taxes. However, the issue becomes more complex when a non-U.S. citizen makes a... Read more.
  • The Reciprocal Trust Doctrine Can Trap the Unwary
    Estate planning attorneys utilize a number of different estate planning techniques to accomplish the goals of their clients and sometimes to minimize transfer taxes. One common estate planning technique is the transfer of assets into an... Read more.
  • Denying a Death Claim on a Valid Life Insurance Policy
    The beneficiary of a life insurance policy is the person entitled to receive the death benefit of the policy when the insured person dies. In order to collect on a death benefit claim, the beneficiary must usually comply with specific... 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.

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