Charitable trusts and perpetuity

People in Georgia who are creating estate plans might want to consider the benefits of a charitable trust. This estate planning tool differs from other types of trusts in a few ways.

For regular trusts, there needs to be a beneficiary named. With a charitable trust, however, the general public acts as the beneficiary. Charitable trusts can also last into perpetuity. The Rule Against Perpetuities applies to most trusts to prevent situations such as those in which a family tries to keep property indefinitely. The exception for charitable trusts is because the property is for the use of the public.

The so-called "Cy Pres doctrine" also is designed to keep a trust going. There tends to be fairly stringent restrictions on a charitable trust, but the Cy Pres doctrine allows a change to be made to the trust if it will fail otherwise or if the change is largely still in line with the trust's intended purpose. For example, in one case, a charitable trust established for the benefit of orphans between the age of 6 to 10 was modified to expand its coverage to orphans age 6 to 18. Another example might be if a trust is established to fund an education foundation that no longer exists. The trust could be changed to support another education foundation.

A person who is creating an estate plan might want to consult with an attorney. In addition to various types of trusts, an estate plan might also include a will and documents that deal with what happens if a person becomes incapacitated. These might include a financial power of attorney to appoint someone to manage financial matters, a living will to describe a person's wishes for end-of-life care and other health care documents.

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