"Ask the Lawyer" got a question from a member: "Can you review our deed of gift and loan forms?" We helped them out on a confidential basis, but we're using their question to inspire this guidance on implementing or updating a suite of policies for accepting and managing gifts into your collections.
The State of New York has very strong feelings about collecting cultural assets and information. So strong, that such collections are governed by a host of laws, regulations, and policy.
Precisely which laws, regulations and policy apply to a collection depends on the type of entity doing the collecting. Museums, historical societies, archives, and libraries all fall under their different (but overlapping) conditions. And before the law takes the wheel, the formation documents of an entity control what items fall within their mission, and what items don't make the cut.
So, for a simple question like: "Can you review our deed of gift and loan forms?" be ready for this response:
Yes! We can review your deed of gift and loan forms. To make sure the review supports your mission, is consistent with your governing documents, and ensures compliance with relevant law and regulation, can you send us:
Now, if your institution needs your forms reviewed, and you can't find these things, don't worry, we can help you find them. Also be prepared for a quick phone call asking if there are any current disputes involving collection items, and to discuss any specific goals you have for the forms.
When reviewing gift forms, the goal is always to ensure that the contract terms created by the form are consistent with the law and foundation documents that will govern the institution's receipt of the gift. The makes a form more likely to withstand a challenge from an angry relative, or during an internal dispute.
So, no matter what lawyer reviews your forms, be ready to give them a dossier of documents!
Thanks to the member out there who put up with me while I kept asking questions!