New York Consolidated Laws, Estates, Powers and Trusts Law - EPT § 8-1.1 Disposition of property for charitable purposes
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(a) No disposition of property for religious, charitable, educational or benevolent purposes, otherwise valid under the laws of this state, is invalid by reason of the indefiniteness or uncertainty of the persons designated as beneficiaries. If a trustee is named in the disposing instrument, legal title to the property transferred for such a purpose vests in such trustee; if no person is named as trustee, title vests in the court having jurisdiction over the trust.
(b) No disposition of property made in a will, executed and attested as prescribed by law, is invalid by reason of the incorporation by reference in the will of any existing written resolution, declaration or deed of trust, identified in such will and made or adopted by any corporation authorized by law to execute or accept trusts, to assist, encourage and promote the well-being and well-doing of mankind in general or the inhabitants of any community in particular; provided that a copy of such resolution, declaration or deed of trust, certified, under its corporate seal, by the secretary or assistant secretary or the cashier or assistant cashier of such corporation, is filed for record in the office of the secretary of state and in the office of the clerk or register of the county of the corporation's principal place of business, in which the conveyances of real property are required by law to be filed for record, the secretary of state and the officer in charge of such record office being hereby authorized and directed to receive and record such resolution, declaration or deed of trust upon payment of the fees provided by law. Any such testamentary disposition to a corporation for the religious, charitable, educational or benevolent purposes set forth in such resolution, declaration or deed of trust is effective although the terms, conditions and purposes of such disposition are established only through such reference in the will.
(c)(1) The supreme court and, where the disposition is made by will, the surrogate's court in which such will is probated have jurisdiction over dispositions referred to and authorized by paragraphs (a) and (b), and whenever it appears to such court that circumstances have so changed since the execution of an instrument making a disposition for religious, charitable, educational or benevolent purposes as to render impracticable or impossible a literal compliance with the terms of such disposition, the court may, on application of the trustee or of the person having custody of the property subject to the disposition and on such notice as the court may direct, make an order or decree directing that such disposition be administered and applied in such manner as in the judgment of the court will most effectively accomplish its general purposes, free from any specific restriction, limitation or direction contained therein; provided, however, that any such order or decree is effective only with the consent of the creator of the disposition if he is living.
(2)(i) The attorney general or any trustee or beneficiary of a testamentary or lifetime trust wholly benefitting one or more charitable beneficiaries may petition a court of competent jurisdiction, on notice to the attorney general and all parties interested in the trust, seeking a termination of such trust when the trust is comprised of assets, the market value of which is one hundred thousand dollars or less and the expense of administering the trust is uneconomic when considered relative to income. When the court finds upon such application that continuation of the trust is economically impracticable or is not in the best interests of the beneficiaries, the court shall make an order or decree terminating the trust and directing the distribution of the trust assets to accomplish its charitable purposes, provided, however, that if the trust is one for the benefit of a particular charitable beneficiary or beneficiaries named therein, the court shall direct the distribution of the trust assets to such named charitable beneficiary or beneficiaries, and provided further that no such proceeding may be instituted without the consent of the creator of the disposition if he is living.
(ii) For purposes of this paragraph, the term “charitable beneficiary” shall mean the beneficiary of a disposition for a religious, charitable, educational or benevolent purpose.
(d) The power of the supreme court or the surrogate's court, as provided in paragraph (c), to prevent the failure of, and to give effect to dispositions for religious, charitable, educational or benevolent purposes is not defeated by the circumstance that the beneficiary of any such disposition does not exist or, if in existence, lacks capacity to take such disposition at the time it would otherwise become effective, whether or not the disposition creates an express trust to effectuate its purposes.
(e) Any accumulation of income from property subject to a disposition in trust for a religious, charitable, educational or benevolent purpose, or otherwise acquired by such trust, shall in all respects, including its reasonableness, amount and duration, be within the jurisdiction of the supreme court or the surrogate's court, as the case may be. In exercising such jurisdiction, (1) any accumulation of income which might otherwise be applied for the purposes of the trust may be prohibited or limited, despite a valid direction therefor in the trust instrument or authority therefor under 8-1.7 and (2) such an accumulation may be authorized by order of the court despite the absence of a direction therefor in the trust instrument. This paragraph shall not restrict in any manner the ability to release or modify restrictions relating to institutional funds under section 555 of the not-for-profit corporation law .
(f) The attorney general shall represent the beneficiaries of such dispositions for religious, charitable, educational or benevolent purposes and it shall be his duty to enforce the rights of such beneficiaries by appropriate proceedings in the courts.
(g) The supreme court or the surrogate's court, as the case may be, may authorize the trustee or any person holding title thereto to sell, mortgage or lease any real property which is the subject of a disposition for a religious, charitable, educational or benevolent purpose, whenever it appears to the satisfaction of the court that such real property, or any part thereof, has become or is likely to become unproductive, has depreciated or is likely to depreciate in value, that it is advisable to raise money to improve or erect buildings upon property so held or that it is expedient for any other reason that such real property be sold, mortgaged or leased. This paragraph shall not restrict in any manner the powers or rights any trustee may have by law or by the terms of any disposition of such real property. The provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to any corporation which is subject to sections 509 through 511 of the not-for-profit corporation law .
(h) The supreme court or the surrogate's court shall not make an order or decree under paragraph (g) unless it appears that eight days written notice, stating the time and place of the application for such order or decree, has been served upon the attorney general, who shall represent the state, the beneficiaries of any trust and the persons who might benefit from the religious, charitable, educational or benevolent purpose for which the real property, which is the subject of the application, is held. A like eight days notice of such application shall be given to any adult within the state who has a vested or contingent future estate in such real property and to any minor, incompetent, conservatee or absentee who is interested in such property, in such manner as the court may direct. Before making a final order or decree, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for any minor who is not represented by a guardian or parent, for any incompetent who is not represented by a committee, and for any absentee.
(i) A sale, mortgage or lease made, as required by law, in accordance with an order or decree of a court under this section is effective against the state as representative of the beneficiaries of such trust and persons who might benefit from the purposes for which such real property is held, and against persons with a vested or contingent future interest in such property and minors, incompetents, conservatees, absentees and persons not in being who have an interest in such property, as well as all other persons who, having been made parties to such proceeding, consent to such order or decree. The purchaser, mortgagee or lessee, or any person claiming under them, shall not be responsible for the disposition of the proceeds of any such sale, mortgage or lease.
(j) Whenever a voluntary association or committee has received, by public subscription, a fund for a charitable or benevolent purpose from more than one thousand contributors, a portion of which remains unexpended after the expiration of five years from the time of its receipt, and it appears that a literal compliance with the terms of the subscription is impracticable, the supreme court may make an order directing that such unexpended balance be transferred for administration and application to such domestic corporation as in the judgment of the court will most effectively accomplish the general purpose for which such fund was collected, free from any restriction, limitation or direction upon which the subscription was made; and on the transfer of such fund to the corporation designated in the order, such voluntary association, its officers and trustees, or such committee and its officers shall be fully exonerated and discharged from all liability to account for such fund. This paragraph shall not restrict in any manner the ability to release or modify restrictions relating to institutional funds under section 555 of the not-for-profit corporation law .
(k) An order shall be made under paragraph (j) on the application of the association or the treasurer of the committee, having custody of the unexpended balance, on twenty days personal notice to the attorney general and notice by publication once a week for four consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation published in the county in which the treasurer of such association or committee resides. If such treasurer resides outside of the state, such notice shall be published in the county in which at least ten per cent of the contributors of such fund resided at the time of its receipt or in such other manner as the court may direct to the contributors as a class, to ten specified members of such class and to the trustees of such association or the surviving members of such committee.
(l) Where public subscriptions for charitable or benevolent purposes were made or begun prior to the year nineteen hundred twenty and the total number of subscribers exceeded five hundred but were less than one thousand, any unexpended balance of a fund obtained for such purpose which, at the time this section takes effect, is in the custody of a surviving member of a committee may be transferred for administration, on the application of such surviving member, in accordance with the procedure and with the effect set forth in paragraphs (j) and (k).
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