DEFINITION of 'Cy Pres Doctrine'

Cy Pres represents a legal concept that gives courts the power to interpret the terms of a will or gift. This is done if the terms of the document cannot be carried out or legitimately, interpreted literally or performed legally. Cy Pres Doctrine provides the court with flexibility to interpret the perceived intent of the donor or testator, and implement its wishes.

BREAKING DOWN 'Cy Pres Doctrine'

An old French phrase, "cy pres comme possible," means, "as near as possible." Cy pres allows the wishes of donors or testators to be carried out in many cases. If it were not for this power, there would be instances in which the phrasing in the document would make it null and void legally, and thus impossible to implement.

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