The Attorney General as Parens Patriae
The Commonwealth, or the Attorney General on its behalf, acting in the capacity of parens patriae, represents the public’s interest in charities, and is, therefore, an indispensable party in every proceeding which affects a charitable trust. See Pruner Estate, 390 Pa. 529 (1957). Thus, Pa.O.C. Rule 5.5 requires that in every proceeding involving or affecting a charitable interest (except where there are pecuniary legacies of $25,000 or less which have been or will be paid in full) notice must be given to the Attorney General. This notice requirement also applies in matters which are settled informally. See Little Estate, 403 Pa. 534 (1961). It is easy to comply with the requirement and the printed form entitled “Notice of Charitable Gift,” obtainable from the Clerk, may be used. See PEPH, Green Book, 6.7. Whether or not the form is used, counsel is required to submit a copy of the instrument creating the gift, a copy of the account (in proper fiduciary form), any other supporting documents or other relevant information to the Deputy Attorney General for charities no less than fifteen (15) days prior to audit, and it is recommended that it be done at least a month in advance. One set of documents is sufficient and should be sent to the designated local Deputy Attorney General, the Regional Chief of the Charitable Trusts and Organizations Section, whose office is in the Attorney General’s Eastern Regional Office located in Philadelphia.

The Attorney General’s Deputies will then review the notice, the account, and any accompanying documents and, if there are no questions or objections, will issue a “Clearance Certificate” approving the account if the account is being submitted for audit by the Court. If the account has been presented for informal settlement and there are no objections, the Attorney General will issue a letter so stating. Accounts in normal fiduciary form may be submitted in matters being settled informally regardless of size. If requested and provided with all the required information, the Deputy Attorney General may, on occasion, waive the notice requirement. Note that the Attorney General pays particular attention to the trustee or personal representative commissions and counsel fees where charities are concerned but to a lesser extent where the charitable interest is remote. It is, therefore, suggested that a family tree showing the lives in being who would inherit ahead of the charitable interest be provided in such cases. It is important to remember that in all matters relating to charitable interests the Attorney General is a necessary party and it would be well to consult the Attorney General in advance concerning any novel problem. A charitable trust is initially and continuously subject to the parens patriae power of the Commonwealth and to the supervisory jurisdiction of the Court, which has broad visitatorial and supervisory powers.


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