Leona Helmsley Leaves $8 Billion for Dog Fund?
There is amazing news coming out about the intentions in Leona Helmsley's (the NY hotel baroness) will and how it will be executed.
On June 16th Manhattan Surrogate Judge Renee Roth reduced Leona's $12 million bequeath to her Maltese, Trouble, to only $2 million (and assigned the $10 million to grandchildren who had been entirely shut out). It was also reported that will executors are spent $100 thousand in the last year on security detail for Trouble who had received death threats.
Now that all the named and direct beneficiaries of the will have been sorted out, there is the matter of the $5 to $8 billion (BILLION!) in unassigned assets that were dedicated in a two page "mission statement" attached to the will for the health and welfare of dogs. William Josephson, a lawyer who was the chief of the Charities Bureau in the New York State attorney generals office from 1999 to 2004 stated The statement is an expression of her wishes that is not necessarily legally binding. However legal precedence consistently decides upon fulfilling the expressed wishes of the deceased over any other interpretation. So it's very likely that billions in assets ($2.3 billion of which was liquid at the time of her death) must be spent for the health and care of dogs.
Once I was able to wrap my head about this, this is amazingly wonderful news. It definitely verges on the ridiculous considering the NY Times determined that "$5 billion would equal 10 times as much money spent as all 7,381 animal-related nonprofit groups reporting to the Internal Revenue Service in 2005." Another way to look at it is that if there are 70 million dogs in the U.S. each could be given $71 towards health care. But it's seems likely likely that huge amounts of money are going to have to be spent on dog health and welfare.
Reading about this makes me think that while Leona thought of her dog's welfare, most people make no plans for their pets if their pets outlive them.
Our guest blogger, attorney and dog lover Michael Blackburg, posted a great entry on how to prepare for your pet if you are not able. It's a great overview and steps every pet owner should review. Michael also helps people create simply and binding trusts for their pets.
After doing some research I found The New York Blogger Mike Nizza picked up on just this same issue and informed me of a non-profits called 2nd Chance 4 Pets. Their mission is to keep pets out of shelters and keep them with families.
2nd Chance 4 Pets is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization staffed by volunteers and located in Los Gatos, California. We work throughout the state and across the nation to provide pet owners with comprehensive information about lifetime care solutions to ensure that their pets will always be cared for.
So, on this note, I'm off to start a $5 billion foundation dedicated to dog health and welfare, but first I'm going to make sure Moxie is taken care of ... always.