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Leona Helmsley's Will: for the Dog

Hotelier Leona Helmsley's pet is one lucky dog: He's the beneficiary of $12 million from his owner's will, according to this New York Times story, Helmsley, Through Will, Is Still Calling the Shots (8/30/07). The article reports that Helmsley left her 8-year-old Maltese, Trouble, $12 million while leaving two grandchildren $10 million (contingent on their visiting their father's grave) and cutting two others out entirely, for “reasons which are known to them.”

But one expert quoted in the Times story opined that some of the will was vulnerable to challenge. Under New York law, a judge can reduce bequests to pets if they're excessive and go beyond an amount that will keep the animal alive. 

Sean Graham at Hull & Hull Estate Law Blog comments here on Helmsley's choices:

Although a standout in so many ways, it seems to me Ms. Helmsley is not so unusual in wanting to see what is reported to have been a beloved pet live in comfort, even opulence, after her departure. It is no secret that people can be extremely close to their pets, in some cases closer even than to other people.  It may seem a waste to spend fortunes taking care of dogs, with so many people and causes that might benefit, but I do note that the residue of Ms. Helmsley's estate is to be given to a Charitable Trust.  It may be that once little Trouble finally follows his owner to that opulent doghouse in the sky, the remaining monies set aside for him will go to the same trust.  If a Will reflects the desire to provide for or thank those closest to you it is really not so surprising when people take extra special care to make absolutely sure their pets are protected. Sometimes those same pets made the testator's last years or months much more bearable than otherwise.

And if you're interested in a rundown of all of the provisions in Helmsley's will, you can find it here at Wills, Trusts and Estates Law Professor Blog.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on August 30, 2007 at 05:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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