Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Want the dictates of your will to be carried out?

If you're poor or middle class, I don't think lawyers and judges will care a great deal about where your money goes. You can leave it to your mistress or your dog, and they don't care. It's what you wanted.

When you leave billions of dollars in money, and you specify that that money is ALL supposed to go to dog-related charities, you can bank on your bequests NOT being carried out. So, if those are really your wishes, the only thing to do is start liquidating your estate while you are still alive, and making donations to the charities of your choice, rather than bequests.


Helmsley's estate announced 53 charitable grants Tuesday, the bulk of which went to New York City hospitals and medical research. The largest grant, $40 million, went to a digestive diseases center at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, while $35 million went to start two research facilities in Helmsley's name at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

The estate for Helmsley — who died in 2007 at age 87 — divided $1 million equally to 10 animal rights charities, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and several groups that train guide dogs for the blind.

Her estate was worth $137 million (supposedly - who knows how much of that Madoff or other swindlers had?), you would have thought they could spare a million each for those ten animal rights charities, instead of dividing a measley million up between them.

But a surrogate court judge ruled in February that trustees for the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust had sole authority to decide which charities benefit from her estate.

"Throughout their lives, the Helmsleys were committed to helping others through the innovations of medical research of responding to those in need during critical times and in other areas," the trustees said in a statement Tuesday. "We now have the privilege of continuing their good works by providing support where it will make a difference."

So much for trusting trustees.

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