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The Hebrew University Association v. Nye

    Brief Fact Summary. Ethel S. Yahuda orally announced a gift of her library from herself to the plaintiff, a university in Israel.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. An oral declaration of a trust exists where the donor manifests an intention to impose upon herself enforceable duties of a trust nature. It is not enough that a donor express intent to be a donor

    Facts. Professor Yahuda and his wife, the plaintiff, had indicated to their friends their interest in creating a scholarship research center in Israel which would serve as a memorial to them. Yahuda went to Jerusalem and had several talks with the plaintiff. Ethel S. Yahuda announced a gift of her library from herself to the plaintiff at a luncheon in Israel, in her honor. Several notables, the plaintiff, and the president of Israel attended the luncheon. The next day, Yahuda signed a newspaper release that indicated she had given the library to the plaintiff. Later she refused several offers for the library explaining that it did not belong to her, only to the plaintiff. Yahuda began arranging and cataloging the material in the library for shipment to Israel. She wrote the plaintiff that she had decided to ship the library and collection but it was not to be unpacked unless she was present so her husband’s ex libris could be affixed to the books.

    Issue. Whether a donor creates a trust where she orally states that she is transferring property to a third party

    Held. No. The donor did not create a trust by announcing a gift to the plaintiff. The declaration did not show that she intended to act as a trustee. An oral declaration of trust does not exist if the donor does not manifest intent to impose upon himself enforceable duties of a trust nature, but only shows intent to be a donor.

    Discussion. A trust did not exist here because the donor only expressed a desire to transfer a gift, not to serve as a trustee.


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