Two landmark trust cases dueling at the intersection of the charitable and the political

Charles E. Rounds, Jr.
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The determination of whether a particular trust purpose is politically charitable, and thus exempt from the durational requirements of the rule against perpetuities (RAP), or uncharitably political, and thus subject to the RAP, cannot but be subjective, local, relative, and situational. At the intersection of the charitable and the political are two landmark trust cases: Jackson v. Phillips, 96 Mass. 539 (1867), in which the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held a trust to benefit fugitive slaves and create a “public sentiment” that will bring an end to slavery politically charitable but a trust to secure passage of laws granting women the right to vote uncharitably political. In 1966, the Court of Appeals of Maryland held a trust to “help further the passage of and enactment into law of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution of the United States” politically charitable, “great as...[was its]...respect for the Massachusetts court.” See Register of Wills for Baltimore City v. Cook, 241 Md. 264, 216 A.2d, 542 (1966). What purposes are charitable and thus exempt from the RAP’s application are considered in §9.4.1 of Loring and Rounds: A Trustee’s Handbook, which section is reproduced in its entirety in the Appendix below.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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