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Probates Gone Wrong: Dog vs. Grand Children

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

Leona Helmsley was a billionaire real estate developer and hotelier that had a net worth between $5-8 billion dollars at the time of her death in 2007. The majority of her estate was left to various charities but the unusual part was that she left $12 million to take care of her 8 year old dog, Trouble. Helmsley also had four grandchildren, two of which she specifically named in her will and stated that she had “not made any provisions in this Will for my grandson...or my granddaughter...for reasons which are known to them.” Ouch! Poor Trouble began receiving death threats when the news of this hit the press and the caretakers of Trouble spent $100,000 annually just on security for the dog.

The grandchildren challenged the will and in 2008, a Manhattan Judge ruled that Ms. Helmsley was mentally unfit when she executed her last will. The court ordered that the $12 million left for Trouble would be reduced to $2 million. Apparently, Trouble’s caretakers stated that $2 million would be adequate to care for Trouble for another 10 years. Furthermore, the two disinherited grandchildren received $6 million and the rest was given the charitable trusts.

Trouble lived out his final days in a hotel in Florida and passed away in 2010. The remainder of Trouble’s care money was given to charity.

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