Cy Pres Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

The legal doctrine of Cy Pres is a French term meaning "as close as possible." When a gift is made by will or trust and it is no longer possible to follow the instructions of the donor, a judge, estate, or trustee may apply the Cy Pres doctrine to fulfill the donor's wishes as nearly as possible. It is usually applied in the case of a gift made for charitable or educational purposes when the named recipient of the gift does not exist, has dissolved or no longer conducts the activity for which the gift is made. In some cases, the Cy Pres doctrine is used court disputes in which a judge must determine the appropriate substitute to receive the gift.