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The term “cy pres” comes from the old French phrase “cy pres comme possible,” meaning “as near as possible.” The legal doctrine of cy pres originated in the charitable trusts context. If a charitable trust’s funds could not be distributed according to the precise terms of the trust because the trust’s objective had become impossible or illegal to carry out, the cy pres doctrine allowed a court to modify the trust so that the money was distributed in a manner that came “as near as possible” to the testator’s original intent.

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