Thursday, April 23, 2009

Leona's Will is Thawarted

Despite clear language in Leona Helmsleys' will that her entire fortune be left to the cause of dogs,....

Dogs Get Small Bite of Helmsley Grants


NEW YORK -- Trustees for the estate of Leona Helmsley announced $136 million in charitable gifts Tuesday, using their court-sanctioned authority to override the wishes of the late real-estate tycoon, who wanted her money spent on behalf of dogs.

Associated Press
Leona Helmsley and her dog Trouble photographed in 2003.

Ms. Helmsley, who died at age 87 in August 2007, sparked a legal fight by leaving instructions in her will to administer money from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Trust to "purposes related to the provision of care for dogs." Trustees went to court to determine their discretion in giving the money away, arguing that the will didn't exclude other charitable pursuits. A judge ruled in February that trustees could give the money as they saw fit.

The largest of the trust's initial grants -- $40 million -- went to New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. A small portion of the grants, $1 million, went to dog-related causes, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and various charities providing dogs for the deaf and blind.

About $115 million went to medical research overall, including work on diabetes, digestive diseases including Crohn's and colitis, heart disease and Alzheimer's. Money also will go toward improving rural health care.

Other grants went to homeless shelters, food banks and emergency-services programs in New York. The trust also funded causes aiming to promote youth educational opportunities and environmental-conservation efforts.

"Throughout their lives, the Helmsleys were committed to helping others, through the innovations of medical research, responding to those in need during critical times and in other areas," the Helmsley trustees said in a statement, making no specific mention of Ms. Helmsley's affinity for dogs. "We now have the privilege of continuing their good works by providing support where it will make a difference."

Ms. Helmsley's fortune had been estimated at $5 billion to $8 billion after her death.

Write to Mike Spector at
My thought: How odd that most of the Helsmsley Trust went to medical research instead of for the care of dogs. Now, as a result of trustee mis-management, the money is going to organizations that may use dogs for medical expirements!

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