Citing two “unidentified sources” (and don’t we all love those?) the New York Times is reporting that Leona Helmsley left a two page mission statement that leaves almost her entire fortune valued at between $5 billion and $8 billion to be used for the care and welfare of dogs.
Apparently Helmsley who died last August indicated in 2003 that the money should go to “poor people and dogs,” but then a year later, she dropped the “poor people” phrase.
Although the mission statement is not part of her will, the law favors remaining faithful to the intent of the person making it. This means that trustees may have difficulty ignoring her wishes. However as we saw in an earlier post, a Manhattan Surrogate Judge Renee Roth has already ignored her specific wishes in her will by reducing the trust fund for Helmsley’s dog Trouble from $12 million to $2 million. (Most of us did agree that Trouble probably won't be facing any financial hardship.)
So far nothing is certain about the final disposition of Leona’s fortune except this: It will take a lot of years to settle, judges will weigh in on deciding where the money goes, some lawyers will make money from it, and there may not be much left for “poor people and dogs.”
Oh, and some very self righteous people will be really pissed off if dogs get much of the money.