Gift of Real Estate to Religious Corporations

/ February 3, 2014

house - iStockGifts of real estate to religious bodies are rare, but frequently the donee is mis-identified. Many churches are known by abbreviated versions of their full name, e.g., “St. Jude’s Catholic Church” is actually “The Church of Saint Jude of the Lake, Mahtomedi, Minnesota.”

Many times the beneficiary is unaware of an intended gift, and has not been consulted for its formal name. With dismay, it learns of the need to take costly action to perfect the transfer. In a formal probate the court can be asked to construe the Will, but a gift by deed could require additional legal proceedings to clear the name discrepancy.

Determining the donee’s correct name can be difficult: Minnesota Statutes Chapter 315 religious corporation records are not found in the Secretary of State’s Office; they are recorded in the County Recorder’s Office and are not available online. Practitioners drafting such gifts should inquire directly of the donee of the correct name and should request a copy of the Articles of Incorporation for confirmation.


*This article was recently featured in the “Tips & Traps” section of the Minnesota State Bar Association’s publication, Bench & Bar (January 2014).