Case Details


Charities Regulation, Common Law Powers

Filing State



South Carolina Supreme Court




Attorney General v. Dallas, No. 27227 (S.C. Feb. 27, 2013).


Attorney general did not have power to create and oversee new trust when testator’s intent was clear in establishing a different charitable trust

Case Description

After a messy will contest involving the estate of the singer James Brown, the parties reached an agreement under which a trust established by Brown’s will was dismantled and a new trust created, the trustees of which were to be appointed by the attorney general. The previous trustees appealed and the court disapproved the settlement, holding, among other things, “The settlement provisions allowing the AG to select the trustee, and his continued influence over the trust overreaches his statutory authority, as there is no provision allowing an AG to become involved in the day-to-day operations of a trust. Moreover, the AG’s primary job is the enforcement of charitable trusts, and in this case, the compromise dismantles the existing charitable trusts, to great ill effect on Brown’s estate plan, rather than enforces it.”