TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Leona Helmsley's $12m Bequest to Her Dog

Gerry Beyer (Texas Tech) of our sister Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog has an extensive post on Leona Helmsley's will.  The $12 million bequest to her dog has gotten a lot of press attention.  Here is Gerry's analysis of the will:

  • Her dog, Trouble (a white Maltese shown in the photo) will benefit from a $12 million trust fund. Trusts for pet animals are valid under New York law (N.Y Est. Powers & Trusts Law § 7-8.1). However, the court may reduce the amount of the property if it determines that it substantially exceeds the amount required for Trouble. The excess would then pass as part of the residuary estate as described below (unless her will provides otherwise). It appears that her brother, Alvin Rosenthal, is the trustee of this trust.
  • Two of her grandchildren will receive $5 million each conditioned on their visiting their father's grave site at least once each year. I am uncertain how compliance with this condition will be monitored.
  • Two of her grandchildren will receive nothing for "reasons that are known the them."
  • $3 million for the upkeep of her mausoleum (discussed earlier on this blog) which must be "washed or steam-cleaned at least once a year."
  • When Trouble dies, she will be buried in the mausoleum.
  • Nicholas Celea, her chauffeur, will receive $100,000. The remainder of her estate worth many billions of dollars, will pass to the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.
  • Because the remainder is huge and goes to her charity, it is unlikely that Trouble's trust will be contested (in my opinion).

Press and bloogosphere coverage:

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2007/08/leona-helmsleys.html

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