The term “inure,” as far as the legal field is concerned, describes the point at which a new law or agreement goes into effect. The term “inure” can also refer to the act of becoming used to something unpleasant, such as an abusive environment. For example, inure, as it applies to children, refers to those whose parents regularly engage in regular acts of domestic violence. These children become inured to violence. To explore this concept, consider the following inure definition.
Definition of Inure
- To become used to something disagreeable.
- (Of a law or an agreement) To take effect.
- (Property law) To vest, or transfer some benefit to another party.
Early 15th Century Late Middle English (means “in use or practice”)
An inurement clause is a clause within a legal document that provides benefits to others besides those who are signing the document. Inurement clauses most often appear in wills, trusts, and contracts. For instance, an inurement clause in a separation agreement can refer to a party’s “representatives and assigns.” This is a way of including other parties without having to know specifically who they are, or to refer to them by name.
Consider the following example of an inurement clause:
“The indemnification and advancement of expenses provided by, or granted pursuant to, this Article V shall continue as to a person who has ceased to be a director or officer and shall inure to the benefit of the heirs, executors, and administrators of such person.” [Emphasis added.]
Put another way, once a person is no longer the director or officer as stated in the contract, his heirs, executors and administrators are to reap the same benefits that he enjoyed in his role. Here, that benefit specifically relates to expenses.
Private Inurement Doctrine
The Private Inurement doctrine relates to charitable organizations and how they divide their contributions. Specifically, per the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), no charitable organization is to “inure,” or provide unjust enrichment, to another party via their gross or net earnings. In other words, charitable contributions are only to go to those for whom the charity benefits. An organization that violates the Private Inurement doctrine risks losing its tax exempt status or incurring fines – whichever route the IRS decides to take.
This is a no-brainer in that the Private Inurement doctrine establishes that a charitable organization can only use the money it receives for the charitable purpose it supposedly helps. Private inurement occurs when an “insider,” such as the founder of the company, uses that money for personal purposes. For instance, the executive of a nonprofit organization cannot use charitable contributions to pay for renovations to his home.
Inure to Benefit
In property law, the phrase “inure to the benefit of the parties” may appear as part of the contract language. What this means, in simpler terms, is that the parties will somehow benefit from the transaction. The phrase “to inure to the benefit of the parties” can also refer to the act of solidifying a person’s interest, or what he deserves to receive as the result of the property-related transaction.
This phrase also binds others to the contract who are not necessarily signatories to that contract. This is so that, if the parties decide an outsider should benefit from the transaction in the future, they do not need to draw up a new agreement. Instead, the attorneys can include a sort of placeholder, allowing the parties to transfer a benefit to a party they later deem fit should the need arise.
Inure Example Involving a Will and a Potential Property Exemption
An example of inure involving a will occurred in the matter of Snyder v. Davis, heard by the Supreme Court of Florida in 1997. Here, Betty Snyder died on February 15, 1995. She left a will behind, and in the will she declared her wishes that her son Milo would get $3,000, two of her friends would get $2,000, and Milo’s daughter, and Betty’s granddaughter, Kelli, would inherit the rest.
By the time Betty had passed away, Kelli had become an adult. Kent Davis, the representative of Betty’s estate, attempted to sell the property to satisfy her will and to pay off her creditors. Kelli fought him on this and insisted that the property was to pass on to her free of claims in accordance with Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution (the homestead provision). Specifically, the section Kelli was referring to noted that certain exemptions involving the property were to “inure to the surviving spouse or heirs of the owner.”
Davis brought a lawsuit against Kelli, asking the court to rule on whether Kelli was a proper heir under the law, given that her father was still alive. And if she was a proper heir, would the law protect her, or force her to sell the property? Davis argued that, if Betty had not left a will, then Kelli would not have been, by default, the legal heir of the property, and that it would have instead gone to Milo as Betty’s son. He also argued that the homestead provision did not protect the property from sale.
Trial and Appeal
The trial court ultimately ruled in Kelli’s favor, finding that the homestead provision did, in fact, protect the property from sale. However, the district court reversed the lower court on appeal. The Court agreed with Davis in that, if Betty had not left a will, then the law would consider Milo to be the true owner of the property. The law would then preclude Kelli from benefiting from protections provided by the homestead provision.
The case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court of Florida for the final word. Ultimately, the Court sided with Kelli. The Court rejected the idea that the term “heirs” should only refer to people who would inherit property in the event their loved ones died without a will. Instead, the Court ruled, the homestead provision allows a person to select anyone they want to inherit their property in their will and, as such, for that heir to also enjoy the protections afforded to them under the law.
In Their Own Words
In the Supreme Court of Florida’s decision, Justice Overton writes:
“The whole purpose of the homestead provision is to protect and maintain the family homestead. The testator is likely in the best position to know which family member is most likely to need or to properly maintain the homestead. A plain reading of the homestead provision establishes that it only prohibits devising the homestead property when the testator is survived by a spouse or minor children. There is no prohibition against devising the homestead property to any of that class of persons who could potentially receive the homestead property under the intestacy statute. We must emphasize, however, that today’s ruling does not authorize a testator to devise homestead property to any person not categorized by our intestacy statute with any expectation that the protections against creditors will survive such a devise. See State Dep’t of Health & Rehabilitative Servs. v. Trammell, 508 So. 2d 422 (Fla. 1st DCA 1987) (holding that a devise of homestead to a good friend does not qualify for the homestead exemption).
We have consistently made it clear that the homestead provision must be given a broad and liberal construction. In the context of this case, we reject the narrow entitlement definition of the term ‘heirs’ that includes only those people who would inherit under the intestacy statute at the death of the decedent. Instead, we hold that the homestead provision allows a testator with no surviving spouse or minor children to choose to devise, in a will, the homestead property, with its accompanying protection from creditors, to any family member within the class of persons categorized in our intestacy statute.”
Related Legal Terms and Issues
- Contract – An agreement between two or more parties in which they make a promise to do or provide something in return for a valuable benefit.
- Heir – A person who, by right of inheritance, inherits the assets of a deceased person.
- Trial – A formal presentation of evidence before a judge and jury for the purpose of determining guilt or innocence in a criminal case, or to rule in a civil matter.
- Will – A legal document in which a person specifies who should receive his assets upon his death.