Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Terms of Leona Helmsley's Will Released -- Dog "Trouble" to Benefit from $12 Million


[Note:  This posting is based on newspaper accounts of the will.  I have now received a copy of the actual will and will post a more accurate description tomorrow.  So, please check later postings.]

The terms of Leona Helmsley's will were released yesterday (August 28, 2007) in a New York Surrogate Court.

Here is a summary of the main provisions of her 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.
      • Her brother, Alvin Rosenthal, will receive a multi-million dollar bequest.
      • 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).

See Helmsley's Will: Dog - $12 million, 2 Grandkids - 0, CNBC.com, Aug. 29, 2007.


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According to the New York Post coverage, a guest registry will be placed in the Helmsley mausoleum, and the grandchildren will be required to sign in when they visit. If a signature is absent for a calendar year, the trustee can presume that no visits were made.

Here's the link:

Posted by: Jim Gust, stratford, ct | Aug 29, 2007 1:54:35 PM

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