Case Details


Charities Regulation, Common Law Powers

Filing State



Appellate Court of Illinois, 4th District




In re Estate of Stern, 240 Ill.App.3d 834, 608 N.E.2d 534, 181 Ill.Dec. 461 (Ill. App. 4th Dist. 1993)


The Attorney General has standing to file a will contest action in which specifically named charities are affected by the outcome of the contest.

Case Description

In a probate case, the Attorney General challenged a will which had been changed to benefit the testator’s housekeeperat the expense of a number of public charities. The housekeeper challenged the Attorney General’s standing, and the trial court dismissed the case. The court of appeals held that the Attorney General did have standing to challenge the will. “Funds which are appropriated for the benefit of society at large are considered to be held in a charitable trust, over which the Attorney General has regulatory authority. There is no requirement that express trust language be used to qualify the funds as a “charitable trust. We believe the Attorney General has common law power and authority to safeguard these charitable assets. The Attorney General’s role in the will contest is to protect charitable assets, and he is vested with that authority. By initiating a will contest, the Attorney General was properly attempting to assure that the funds which were initially bequeathed to the charities were applied to their intended charitable use.”