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A grafted direction may be ignored when compliance is altogether impracticable and the gift may be executed cy pres through a scheme to be framed by the court for carrying out the general charitable purpose. N.Y. Real Prop. Law § 113(2).
In her will, Ella Neher bequeathed a property to the Red Hook Village, specifying that the property was to be used as a hospital for the benefit of the people of the village. The village accepted the bequest but later filed a petition for a decree construing and reforming the will provision so that the village could use the property for the village's administrative building as the village did not have the resources to establish a hospital and there was a new hospital near the village. The trial court and appellate court denied the petition. The village sought review.
Under the circumstances, could the provision of the will be reformed in order for the village to use the property as its administrative building?
On appeal, the Court reversed the decrees and remitted the matter to the trial court with instructions to devise a scheme to carry out the general charitable purpose of the gift. The Court held that the gift was not a gift to a particular institution, that there was no singular object of the bounty because it was to a whole community, and that there was no hint for any certain type of medical or surgical care. The Court concluded that, in reading the will provision as a whole, the true construction was that the intention was to give the property for a general charitable purpose rather than a particular charitable purpose and that a grafted direction could be ignored when compliance was impracticable.