The Charitable Trusts and Organizations Section protects the public’s interest in all property committed to charitable purposes. Among its variety of responsibilities, the Section:
- Investigates and initiates legal actions against charitable organizations and/or their professional fundraisers to ensure that charitable donations are lawfully raised and expended;
- Oversees nonprofit corporations generally, including nonprofit mergers, conversions and acquisitions, and may seek to revoke an organization’s franchise and articles whenever it misuses, abuses or fails to use its powers and privilege;
- Reviews the actions of executors and trustees in wills and trusts containing charitable gifts to make certain that the fiduciaries have acted properly and efficiently.
Please note the following notice requirements to the office whenever charitable assets are involved –
Pennsylvania Orphans’ Court (Pa. O.Ct.) Rules 2.5, 4.4 and 10.5:
- Rule 2.5(a)(4) requires notice to the Attorney General, “[f]or an Account where a charitable interest is involved . . . .” and refers accountants and/or their counsel to Rule 4.4.
- Rule 2.5(c) requires notice to the Attorney General, “[i]f the proposed distribution is to an estate or trust and a charity is a ‘qualified beneficiary,’ as defined in 20 Pa.C.S. § 7703, of that recipient estate or trust . . . .”
- Rule 4.4(a) requires that, “[i]n every court proceeding involving or affecting a charitable interest . . ., at least 20 days advance written notice thereof shall be given to the Attorney General . . . .”
- Rule 10.5(a) (6) requires that within three months of the grant of letters to the personal representative written notice shall be sent to, “the Attorney General on behalf of any charitable beneficiary (i) which is a residuary beneficiary, including as a beneficiary of a residuary testamentary trust; (ii) whose legacy exceeds $25,000; or (iii) whose interest in a legacy will not be paid in full”.
Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure, No 235 requires notice:
- “[i]n any proceeding in a court subject to these rules in which . . . a charitable bequest or trust is involved and the Commonwealth is not a party . . . the plaintiff in a proceeding involving a charitable bequest or trust shall promptly give notice thereof by registered mail to the Attorney General of Pennsylvania together with a copy of the pleading or other portion of the record raising the issue and shall file proof of the giving of the notice.”
The Charitable Trusts and Organizations Section attorneys are available to conduct public education programs and provide information on charitable solicitations and requirements. The Section has offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.