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Wilber v. Owens
New Jersey Supreme Court
65 A.2d 843 (1949)
William Brokaw Bamford created a manuscript that discussed his views on philosophical and metaphysical issues. Bamford’s will included a trust that funded the completion and publishing of the manuscript’s findings. Bamford’s wealth was inherited. The manuscript’s introduction section discussed Bamford’s belief that individuals who inherited wealth should use their wealth to benefit humanity. Princeton University was a named beneficiary of the trust. Following Bamford’s death, Princeton’s vice chancellor examined the manuscript and found it to be irrational, unintelligible, and of no scientific value. However, the vice chancellor also found that Bamford had a general charitable intent. On this basis, Princeton University applied the doctrine of cy pres to fund the university’s scientific and philosophical research. The will’s executor, Charles P. Wilber (plaintiff), sued the trustees of Princeton University, including John Owens (defendants). Wilber claimed that Bamford lacked a charitable intent and intended only for the manuscript to be completed and published. The lower court found that: (1) Bamford had a charitable intent, (2) the trust was a valid charitable trust, and (3) Wilber was obligated to release the trust funds to Princeton for the advancement of its scientific and philosophical research.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Hehrer, J.)
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