Trusts & Estates Law/Trust for a school

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Question
I'm currently working at a small non-profit private school that has been around for over 100 years. There was a large donation many years ago that was given "to be used for whatever the school needs", but about 10 years ago the board decided to tie it up in a very complicated trust that can only be used for capital expenditures, such as repairs and large items,and cannot be used for everyday expenses, taxes, etc.

We have a board that is expected to make decisions in the best interest of the school, but for the past several years they've spent more time arguing amongst each other, when they do get around to showing up to meetings. Long story short, the school is becoming rundown and we are way behind other schools in the area because the board can't agree on any improvements, so we can't attract new students. We are now being told that some on the board are pushing for just giving up and shutting down in the next few months. Meanwhile there is $2 million dollars in the trust for the school that we can't use, which according to the terms of the trust if we close will have to be donated to "a like organization"!

Is there any possible way for us to get a lawyer to sort this out, or force the trust to be actually used for the good of the school?? There are several board members who want to save the school so I'm assuming they would need to be the ones to start this? What kind of lawyer would we need to talk to?

Thank you for ANY insights you can give us!!

Answer
Dear Lily

I acknowledge your concern.

No one, other than the government or court  can interfere in the affairs of the Trust.

The trustees can only do the needful. Since some trustees are not interested, the interested trustees can engage a lawyer or approach the government authority with their concern.

The Board of Trustees are empowered to alter the previous decision of their Board about use of the said donation. The Board is not entitled to alter the wish of the Donor.

I hope this helps

Prof Garain, PhD

Trusts & Estates Law

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