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Officers, Directors and Trustees

• Can an officer or trustee of an unincorporated religious organization legally sell the organization's property? No, concluded the New Hampshire Supreme Court. In 1957, the Benedictine Sisters was organized in Bedford, New Hampshire as a nonprofit corporation. In 1977, the corporation was dissolved by the secretary of state for failure to file an information return and fee. Some seven years later, in 1984, Sister Simonis (the mother superior and former president of the nonprofit corporation) entered into a contract with a local real estate broker to sell him 8 of the 40 acres owned by the Benedictine Sisters. The broker was not represented by an attorney, and made no effort to verify the authority of Sister Simonis to execute the contract on behalf of the Sisters. While the broker was seeking city approval to subdivide the 8 acres into a real estate development, Sister Simonis notified ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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  • September 1, 1989

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