Covenant Presbytery v. First Baptist Church (Majority, with Dissenting)Annotate this Case
Settlor executed a will stating that First Presbyterian and First Baptist churches were to receive the remainder of his estate, which consisted largely of farmland. The Settlor named a trustee and directed it to hold the farmland as a testamentary trust during the life of the will’s lifetime beneficiaries and, thereafter, to distribute the proceeds of the property to the churches. First Presbyterian later dissolved its congregation and transferred its assets to Covenant Presbytery. The trustee for the Settlor’s trust requested that the circuit court determine the rights of First Baptist and Covenant Presbytery to the farmland and its income. The circuit court applied the cy pres doctrine and reformed the trust to provide that First Presbyterian’s distributions should be transferred to First Baptist. Covenant Presbytery appealed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) because the will did not create a charitable trust, the cy pres doctrine was inapplicable; and (2) per the parties’ stipulation, First Presbyterian assigned its rights under the trust to Covenant Presbytery.