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Gift to Church Orphanage Lapsed, Court Says

Orphanage no longer existed; succeeding charity technically not an orphanage.

Key point. A gift in a decedent's will to a defunct charity may "lapse."

An Illinois court ruled that a gift to a church orphanage lapsed since the orphanage no longer existed and it was succeeded by another charity that was not organized as an orphanage. A decedent died leaving one—fourth of his estate to the Lutheran Orphan Home, Paris, Missouri. There was no Lutheran Orphan Home in Paris, Missouri at the time of the decedent's death, and never had been. There was a Lutheran Orphan Home in Des Peres, Missouri, but it closed some 25 years prior to the decedent's death. The assets of the orphanage were transferred to the Lutheran Family & Children's Services of Missouri, which claimed that it was entitled to the portion of the decedent's estate that was earmarked for the Lutheran Orphan Home. A court concluded that the decedent must have intended that one—fourth of his ...

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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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Posted:
  • May 1, 1996

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