How to Manage a Charitable Trust

How to Manage a Charitable Trust in Illinois | Required Registrations and Filings for Illinois Charitable Trusts

Video by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Article written by Illinois Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
September 23, 2019

In this article we explain how to manage a charitable trust in Illinois.  We discuss: 

  • What registrations are required for Illinois charitable trusts?;
  • How to Register an Illinois Charity or Charitable Trust  with the Charitable Trusts Bureau of the Attorney General’s Office; and
  • Required Annual Filings for Illinois Charitable Trusts.

For some foundational information about charitable trusts, check out our article: Charitable Trusts Explained. 

What Registrations are Required for Illinois Charitable Trusts?

Under the Illinois Charitable Trust Act, gifts of any amount that are given “for charitable purposes” can be used to provide any number of people with benefits, including: 

·       Education

·       The benefit of religion

·       Relief from poverty, sickness or disease

·       A means of establishing themselves in life

·       Public building or recreational activities 

·       Services which lessen the burden of government

Under this act, the state of Illinois requires all charitable organizations, trusts, and professional fundraisers to register yearly with the Attorney General’s office prior to holding or soliciting any charitable funds in Illinois. The Charitable Trusts Bureau of the Attorney General’s office in Chicago maintains the register of charitable trusts that have been registered in Illinois. This allows potential donors and other public figures the ability to access important information about any charitable organization, including income, expenditures, and administration, before they decide to donate. 

For any Illinois charities that have more than $4,000 in property and/or assets within a 12-month period, trustees are required to file a registration statement with the Bureau prior to its disbursement. In this case, a trustee is considered any person, individual, group of individuals, association, corporation, not-for-profit corporation, estate representative, or other legal entity holding property for or solicited for any charitable purpose. Registration is mandatory, whether the charity is actively soliciting for funds or holding property. 

How to Register an Illinois Charity or Charitable Trust  with the Charitable Trusts Bureau of the Attorney General’s Office

To register a charitable organization with the Attorney General’s office, trustees are required to submit the following documentation: 

·       A copy of the written instrument that creates and governs the trust

·       Articles of incorporation and certificate of good standing, bylaws, partnership agreement, and other related organizational documents

·       The organization’s previous three years of federal tax returns; if the trust has only existed for less than a year, a CO-2

·       A list of names, mailing addresses, and daytime telephone numbers of all trustees, directors, and officers

·       The charity’s IRS determination letter, or a copy of a submitted IRS 1023 or 1024 to show 501(c)(3) status

·       Copies of all fundraising contracts, if any

·       A payment for the registration fee of $15; if past due, this fee rises to $200


Required Annual Filings for Illinois Charitable Trusts

Once the charitable organization is registered, trustees are required to submit an AG990-IL (Annual Report Form) every year after, unless the trust holds less than $25,000. For each late annual report, an additional late fee of $100 is due. For trusts that hold less than $25,000, trustees can complete the simpler CO-2 every year instead. 


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