Cy Pres Doctrine Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Cy Pres Doctrine, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Cy Pres Doctrine?

French term meaning as close as possible.When a gift is made by a will or trust to any charitable or educatioanl institution that no longer exists,this is the legal authority given to the trustee to grant the gift to an institution working for similar purposes.In case of any controversey judge decides in a legal proceeding as to which organisation comes closest in receiving the gift.

History and Meaning of Cy Pres Doctrine

The Cy Pres Doctrine is a legal principle that originated in the courts of medieval England. Its purpose was to ensure that charitable gifts would continue to be used for their intended purposes, even if the original recipient ceased to exist or could no longer fulfill its obligations. The term "cy pres" is derived from the French phrase "cy pres comme possible," which means "as near as possible."

In modern legal practice, the Cy Pres Doctrine is used in trusts and wills when a charitable or educational institution named as a beneficiary no longer exists or is unable to fulfill its obligations. In such cases, the trustee or executor is given the legal authority to redirect the gift to a similar organization that is working towards the same purposes as the original beneficiary. This ensures that the gift will still be used for charitable or educational purposes, even if the original recipient is no longer able to receive it.

Examples of Cy Pres Doctrine

  1. A wealthy philanthropist bequeaths a large sum of money to a historical society that later dissolves. Under the Cy Pres Doctrine, the executor of the will can redirect the gift to a different historical society with similar goals and objectives.

  2. A trust is established for the purpose of funding scientific research in a particular field. If the original intended recipient is no longer able to receive the gift, the trustee can use the Cy Pres Doctrine to redirect the funds to another research organization working in the same field.

  3. A testator leaves a gift to a local animal shelter that later merges with a larger nationwide organization. The executor of the will can use the Cy Pres Doctrine to distribute the gift to the larger organization for the benefit of the shelter's animals.

Legal Terms Similar to Cy Pres Doctrine

  1. Charitable Trust: A trust established for the benefit of a charitable or educational institution, often subject to the Cy Pres Doctrine.

  2. Perpetuity: The condition of a gift or trust that is intended to last forever, subject to the rules against perpetuities.

  3. Trustee: A person or institution appointed to manage a trust and its assets for the benefit of the trust's beneficiaries.