What happens when I leave a gift to a charity and the charity no longer exists after my death?
Many people generously leave gifts to charities in their Wills to support the community or important causes. Unfortunately, these gifts sometimes run into issues when the charities named in the Will amalgamate with other charities, are wound up, or where the charity isn’t described correctly.
It is possible for these charitable gifts to still take effect, however it depends on why the gift lapsed, as well as the gift’s wording.
Ideally, the will should contain a clause giving the executor the power to select a similar charity, avoiding the estate from incurring expenses trying to resolve the issue.
Where the Will does not contain a clause giving the executor the power to select a similar charity the executor may need to make a cy-pres (“sigh pray”) application. This is a request to the Attorney-General or Supreme Court requesting they intervene and redirect the gift to an appropriate charity.
At Elringtons Lawyers our Estate Planning team has experience in preparing Wills with bequests to charity and would happy to discuss your Will with you. Please do not hesitate to phone reception to make an appointment.
 Attorney-General (NSW) v Adams (1908) 7 CLR 100, 125
 Charitable Trusts Act 1993 (NSW) s 10(1).
 Ibid s 10(2).
 Ibid s 14(1)(a).
 Ibid s 14(1)(b).