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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.
  • Revocable Bank Deposit Totten Trusts
    A decedent’s assets may be transferred upon their death to their heirs or other beneficiaries through probate. “Probate” is the legal process by which a court determines who receives a decedent’s assets under... 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.
  • Conservatorships to Manage the Affairs of the Incapacitated
    A “conservator” is a court-appointed individual assigned to handle the daily affairs of those who cannot care for themselves due to physical or mental limitations (the “conservatee”). Conservatorships are... Read more.
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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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