Sunday, June 22, 2008

Not Even the Dog is Safe from (IRA) Involuntary Redistribution of Assets

Contributed to by Estate of Denial

A Manhattan judge quietly reduced the notoriously ill-tempered canine’s $12 million trust fund and signed off on a deal to pay the late billionaire’s two disinherited grandchildren $6 million amid allegations that Helmsley wasn’t mentally competent when she signed her will.

In bombshell papers filed in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court, the siblings say the so-called Queen of Mean was not of sound mind or memory and did not have the mental capacity to make a will when she signed the document on July 15, 2005.

The highly unusual deal was signed off on by both the state Attorney General’s Office, which oversees charities, and Surrogate’s Court Judge Renee Roth.

We understand that $12 million was an excessive amount to leave in a trust fund designated for the care of Leona Helmsley’s dog, Trouble. And we certainly look at pet trusts as financial vehicles that can lead to serious abuse or looting of an estate. Read full story here.

It just seems wrong, however, for a court, some attorneys and disgruntled heirs to come in and dismiss Helmsley’s final wishes. Why not keep assets from Trouble’s trust in income generating investments through the last years of her life (probably five or less per the article) and then perform a final distribution as is likely specified in Helmsley’s estate plan?

Helmsley deserves her final wishes to be respected in the same manner as any other American. The apparent negotiation and non-disclosure of details regarding posthumous changes in Helmsley’s will are troublesome. Not that it is necessarily anyone else’s business, but the precedent that a decedent’s final wishes can be renegotiated upon their passing violates an individual’s right to direct the ultimate disposal of their property and potentially usurps the rights of inheritance for designated beneficiaries.

With “case law” as a basis for our legal system, we hope the Helmsley case doesn’t become a cornerstone for “anything goes” estate proceedings - so long as you have the social clout and money to influence the local judiciary - such that open season on the property of the dead becomes the norm.

The pooch "Trouble" is not without it's own (IRA) Involuntary Redistribution of Assets problems , the pampered pooch who inherited 12 million dollars from a late US hotel magnate earlier this year has fled to Florida under an assumed name after receiving death threats, a report said.

Trouble, a white Maltese who belonged to billionaire Leona Helmsley until her death in August, was flown by private jet under tight security two months ago after receiving around 20 such threats, the New York Post reported.It said the rich bitch was now living in Florida with Carl Lekic, the general manager of the Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel. in Florida, a favorite with retirees escaping the winter, without naming its sources.

The paper did not say who was suspected of being behind the threats, but Trouble is said to have earned countless enemies due to a penchant for biting.John Codey, who is in charge of the pampered pooch's trust fund, told US television network CBS last week that there had been threats to kidnap the dog.

He added that the cost of Trouble's round-the-clock security detail, medical care, chef-cooked meals and grooming were an estimated 300,000 dollars a year. The dog was previously living at a 28-room estate in Connecticut.

When Trouble dies, any remaining money from her trust will go to the charitable foundations that inherited the lion's share of Helmsley's estimated four-billion-dollar estate.Helmsley, dubbed the "Queen of Mean" by the tabloid press, cut two grandchildren out of her will while leaving five million to two others on the proviso that they visit their late father's grave at least once a year.Helmsley's will also stipulates that when Trouble dies she is to be buried beside her and her late husband Harry, who died in 1997.

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