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Wills, Trusts and Estates

• Can a provision in a decedent's will leaving the bulk of his estate to a church "solely for the building of a new church" be honored if the church has no plans to build a new facility? That was the issue before the Iowa Supreme Court in an important case. An elderly man drafted a will in 1971 that left most of his estate "in trust" to his sisters, and upon the death of the surviving sister, to a local Congregational church with the stipulation that the funds be used "solely for the building of a new church." The man died in 1981, and his surviving sister died in 1988. Since the Congregational church had no plans to build a new sanctuary, it asked a local court to interpret the will to permit the church to use the trust fund not only for construction of a new facility but also "for the remodeling, improvement, or expansion of the existing church facilities" and for the purchase of ...

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Posted:
  • September 3, 1990

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