2020 Georgia Code
Title 53 - Wills, Trusts, and Administration of Estates
Chapter 12 - Trusts
Article 9 - Charitable Trusts
§ 53-12-174. Attorney General or District Attorney as Representative of Charitable Beneficiaries

Universal Citation: GA Code § 53-12-174 (2020)

In all cases in which the rights of beneficiaries under a charitable trust are involved, the Attorney General or the district attorney of the circuit in which the major portion of trust property lies shall represent the interests of the beneficiaries and the interests of this state as parens patriae in all legal matters pertaining to the administration and disposition of such trust. The Attorney General or the district attorney may bring or defend actions, and, insofar as an action of this nature may be deemed an action against the state, the state expressly gives its consent thereto. The venue of such actions may be in any county in this state in which a substantial number of persons who are the beneficiaries of the trust reside. Process shall be directed to the Attorney General or to the district attorney of the circuit in which the major portion of the trust property lies. Service may be perfected by mailing a copy of the petition and process by the clerk of the superior court of the county in which it is filed to the Attorney General or to the district attorney of the circuit in which the major portion of the trust property lies. Any judgment determining rights under any charitable trusts shall be binding on the beneficiaries if the Attorney General or the district attorney of the circuit in which the major portion of the trust property lies is a party and is served as provided in this Code section.

(Code 1981, §53-12-174, enacted by Ga. L. 2010, p. 579, § 1/SB 131.)

Cross references.

- Provisions regarding exemption of financial institutions from fiduciary bond or security requirements, § 7-1-311.

Bond requirements for testamentary guardians, § 29-4-3.

Law reviews.

- For note on discriminatory charitable trusts in Georgia, with regard to application of the cy pres doctrine, in light of Evans v. Newton, 382 U.S. 296, 86 S. Ct. 486, 15 L. Ed. 2d 373 (1966), see 6 Ga. St. B.J. 428 (1970). For note discussing problems with venue in Georgia, and proposing statutory revisions to improve the resolution of venue questions, see 9 Ga. St. B.J. 254 (1972).


Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, decisions under former O.C.G.A. § 53-12-79 and former O.C.G.A. § 53-12-115 of the 1991 Trust Act are included in the annotations for this Code section.

Standing to allege breach of fiduciary duty.

- Neither contributors to a trust which established a chair in financial accounting nor faculty members who might have been eligible to be named to the chair had standing to allege a breach of fiduciary duty by the trustees arising from their alleged disregarding of the appointment criteria under the trust and university hiring procedures and naming of an unqualified, non-certified public accountant personal friend as the first holder of the chair as they did not have the special interest required to maintain such an action. Warren v. Board of Regents of the Univ. Sys., 247 Ga. App. 758, 544 S.E.2d 190 (2001) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 53-12-115).


- Pursuant to former O.C.G.A. § 53-12-115 (see O.C.G.A. § 53-12-174), the Attorney General had standing to bring the instant action against the executor even though the testator did not use the words "trust" or "trustee" in the testator's will since the testator effectively created a charitable trust by bequeathing the bulk of the testator's estate to charitable organizations meeting certain requirements and imposing active duties on the executor in regard to the selection of specific charities. In re Estate of Chambers, 261 Ga. App. 737, 583 S.E.2d 565 (2003) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 53-12-115).

No standing to enforce bequests to cemetery.

- Although the Attorney General had standing under O.C.G.A. § 53-12-115 to enforce a provision in a testator's will that created a charitable trust for education, the Attorney General lacked standing to enforce outright bequests to specific private cemeteries. Cronic v. Baker, 284 Ga. 452, 667 S.E.2d 363 (2008) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 53-12-115).

Cited in Meyer v. Citizens & S. Nat'l Bank, 677 F. Supp. 1196 (M.D. Ga. 1988); Warren v. Board of Regents of the Univ. Sys., 272 Ga. 142, 527 S.E.2d 563 (2000); New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC v. Dep't of Revenue, 308 Ga. 729, 843 S.E.2d 431 (2020).


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 15 Am. Jur. 2d, Charities, § 136.


- 14 C.J.S., Charities, § 61 et seq.


- Who may maintain suit or proceedings to enforce or administer benevolent or charitable trusts, 62 A.L.R. 881; 124 A.L.R. 1237.

Standing of minister or member of religious society to seek enforcement, termination, or proper administration of charitable trust, 94 A.L.R.3d 1204.

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