Will of Chase

Trusts and Estates

New York Law Journal


Surrogate Vincent Versaci

Fiduciaries of each of the three named trusts and estate matters petitioned to apply the doctrine of cy pres to charitable distributions made by each respective decedent to St. Clare's Hospital. The matters were joined by stipulation, and summary judgment motions were filed by St. Clare's and Ellis Hospital. Ellis assumed certain of St. Clare's assets under an agreement and St. Clare's ceased operating as a hospital. Each trust provided for distribution of part of the estate to St. Clare's. Ellis argued cy pres should be applied naming it as the proper alternative beneficiary of the bequests to St. Clare's, noting St. Clare's relinquishment of its license to operate as a hospital constituted a change in circumstances since the execution of each instrument rendering the donors' general charitable purpose incapable of being fulfilled. The court agreed, finding all three prongs of the Matter of Othmer test were satisfied, including a finding the donors' intended to benefit the operation of St. Clare's as a hospital, not the corporation itself. It found it appropriate to apply the cy pres doctrine to the cases, and Ellis, as the sole remaining hospital in Schenectady, most closely resembled St. Clare's, thus was the proper alternative beneficiary of the gifts.

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