Florida’s new trust code continues the common law rule in this state that charitable trusts are policed primarily by the Florida Attorney General (F.S. §736.0110(3)). The same rule applies to Florida not-for-profit corporations (F.S. §617.2003). However, in a significant break from the common law rule, the new trust code also gives settlors standing to personally enforce the charitable trusts they create (F.S. §736.0405(3)).
The ongoing saga over the J. Paul Getty Trust in California (see here for prior post) is a dramatic example of how charitable trusts can go awry and how a state’s attorney general’s office can play a role in policing these organizations. In the latest twist, the New York Times reported in California Attorney General Appoints Overseer of Reforms at J. Paul Getty Trust that the California attorney general has appointed an independent monitor to oversee mandated reforms. The following is an excerpt from the linked-to story:
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 2 — Ending a 14-month investigation, the California attorney general appointed an independent monitor on Monday to oversee reforms at the J. Paul Getty Trust, one of the world’s richest cultural organizations. The inquiry determined that the trust’s former president, with the approval of the Getty board, misspent trust money on his wife’s travel, used employees for personal errands and made improper payments to a graduate student.
Although the attorney general, Bill Lockyer, found that the former president and the board violated their legal duties, he declined to take civil or criminal action against them. The report stated that the misuse of funds did not result from fraud and that the value of a settlement between the former president, Barry Munitz, and the trust exceeded the value of the losses from any improper payments.
The Getty, which has adopted several reforms since Mr. Munitz resigned under pressure in February, expressed satisfaction with the results of the inquiry.