Registration of Charitable Trusts and Estates

The New York Attorney General's Charities Bureau protects the public interest in charitable gifts and bequests contained in wills and trust agreements. Which estates must register?


When a will makes a bequest to charity, the estate must register with the Attorney General.

Are any charitable estates exempt from registration?

Registration is not required if all bequests to charity are specific dollar amounts left to named charities. However, if the bequests cannot be paid in full for any reason (for example, the estate has insufficient assets, a named charity no longer exists, etc.), then the estate must register as soon as possible but no later than six months after these facts become known.

How does an estate register?

A registration file is opened automatically, and a registration number is assigned, when the Attorney General's office receives a copy of the Notice of Probate, a court document that is prepared by the executor or the estate’s attorney. The executor or attorney will receive a letter from the Attorney General's office confirming that the estate is registered, and requesting a copy of the will if has not already been provided.

Must a charitable estate file financial reports with the Attorney General?

The only required financial report is the executor’s final accounting, which is filed when the estate is ready to be closed. The accounting may be formal (filed in court) or informal.

The applicable fee is payable at the time of the final accounting. The fee amount is based on the amount that is paid to charity.


Which trusts must register?

Any trust that has a current charitable interest must register with the Attorney General. This includes charitable lead trusts, charitable remainder trusts (when the charitable remainder interest becomes current), and trusts with wholly charitable purposes, including private foundations and public charities organized in trust form.

In general, a trust is required to register no later than six months after the charitable interest becomes current.

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