Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New York. Leona Helmsley. Trustees Challenged. Where's the beef?

Be careful when you're alive but it seems you should also take care when you die. Leona Helmsley, unfairly labeled as the Queen of Mean by the media, wasn't so mean after all. She earmarked the enormous wealth she left behind ( five billion) to be spent largely on animal welfare, but there is a problem. The ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Maddie’s Fund, filed a lawsuit last week in New York Surrogate’s Court to intervene in the allocation of Helmley's wealth, claiming that her wishes are not being fulfilled by her trustees. This lawsuit targets an earlier ruling that allowed the trustees to disregard Mrs. Helmsley’s specific instructions that her wealth be spent helping dogs. In other words, spend the money the way the deceased wanted it spent. Because of that earlier ruling, less than 0.1% the trust’s initial round of grants went to dog-related charities.

Marsha Perelman, ASPCA Board Chair, stated that “Just a fraction of the money involved in Mrs. Helmsley’s estate is a game-changer for animal welfare...The fate of dogs in this country could very well rest on the decision of this lawsuit—it is that critical. " Ed Sayres, President and CEO of the ASPCA chimed in as well: “Mrs. Helmsley understood the importance of animal welfare. She wanted her worldly estate to make our society better for dogs and animals—and if distributed as she intended, it definitely has the power to do so.”

This sort of misdirection should alarm everyone, and you don't have to be a billionaire. Is there any respect out there anymore? You put your dying wishes in legal form and by some legal gymnastics by the very people you trusted turn your wishes into mush. I give this lawsuit two thumbs up, one for seeking to uphold Mrs. Helmley's will and the other for setting a precedent that trustees---not only Helmley's but all those who were bequeathed with enormous funds--- will be held accountable for their actions.


air said...

For those messing with her will, they WILL be held accountable by the Queen of Mean on the other side.

Chessbuff said...

You betcha, and no more Mrs. Nice billionairess.