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Abstract

Perhaps no legal principle illustrates the use of Fourteenth Amendment equal protection jurisprudence more poignantly than the relatively obscure cy pres doctrine. The ancient doctrine which allowed both courts and the Crown in England to change trust purposes when the original trust purposes proved no longer viable was adopted belatedly, sporadically and partially by jurisdictions in the United States. In Part I, the author illustrates how the United States jurisdictions differ from England in the requirement for charitable intent. Earlier cases reveal the United States, unlike England, has resisted relaxation of the requirement. In Part II, the author uses the Restatement of Trusts to demonstrate further how the jurisdictions had developed differently at the mid-twentieth century point. In Part III, the author reports on the significant reforms in England and the corresponding, though halting, movement toward reform in the United States jurisdictions. In Part IV, the author describes the specific reform proposals in the United States proliferating since 1943. Finally, the author concludes that relaxation of cy pres doctrinal requirements is realized best by modest legislation and effective drafting.

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