Understanding the cy pres doctrine in Oklahoma trusts

A charitable trust in Oklahoma gives you the ability to list either a specific organization or a general cause to which you wish to leave a legacy. At Ball & Morse, PLLC, we know how important it is that your wishes are kept. However, there are some circumstances in which your original plan cannot be honored. In those situations your estate or trustee will have to act under the cy pres doctrine.

The National Paralegal College points out that there are two situations in which the cy pres doctrine may be invoked. In the first, the original purpose for the funds must have been impossible, impracticable or illegal. For example, the agency may have been shut down since the trust was created.

The second situation in which the cy pres doctrine may be used is if, when you created the trust, you did not specify a specific charity to which the funds would be directed. You could have said that you wanted the money to go toward an agency that works with the homeless, for example.

In both situations, the court will direct the funds to a cause or agency that is “as nearly like” your original intent. The money may go to an organization similar to the original one you selected or to one that serves the cause you outlined.

If you have created a charitable trust and have concerns about how the money will be allocated, it is wise to speak with an attorney. For more information on this topic, please visit our page on estate planning.

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