Talk Back: Leona’s Last Wish

By on February 27, 2009 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Yesterday’s blog prompted a flood of comments from those of you who shared my disappointment about the decision allowing Leona Helmsley's trustees to set aside her declared interest in seeing the money used for the care and welfare of dogs, in favor of other causes they themselves will specify. This news underscores the crucial importance of proper planning with regard to bequests, as well as proper measures to ensure for the care of beloved companion animals, once we are gone.

Today I wanted to let you sound off; below are some of your responses.

This is very discouraging. Please, HSUS, follow up on this case and use your influence to make sure Ms. Helmsley's estate is used to help dogs as she desired. This action by Ms. Helmsley's trustees makes me worry about how my wishes will be carried out upon my death. —Susan

This sort of "run around" one's stated wishes makes one realize that leaving one's estate in trustee's hands is not a good idea. Everybody knew how much Leona Helmsley loved her dogs and that she had left her estate to animal welfare. I think it is outrageous that this kind of thing can happen and am wondering if there is a way to prevent it happening by the way one writes their will or trust? If one names individual animal charities and a percentage of the estate along with the name, can that be changed in court? We had a local estate that had grown substantially over the years and it was challenged in court and the powers that be decided how to divide it up as they said that the late owner would have decided differently if she had known how large the trust had become. I want to KNOW that whatever I leave in my estate goes to the charities I name and I don't care how large that amount is if the stocks happen to rise substantially. Naturally the majority of us don't have billions but this should make people think twice about how they word their desires. I hope you can get other animal nonprofits to join you to fight this in court. This makes me very angry. —Christine Scott

I read this story and was absolutely heartbroken. Ms. Helmsley may not have been the easiest person to get along with while she was alive, but her decision to commit her entire estate to dog welfare organizations tells me that deep down, she was a wonderful person. Is there nothing that can be done about this atrocity by the trustees of her estate? A petition? Protest? I would gladly donate my time. —Cydney

The Helmsley ruling represents still another shameful miscarriage of American justice… —Sally Lowell

I am sickened by this news! What is the point in someone leaving a bequest if it will not be honored? The trustees, family members, the judge, Andrew Cuomo and anyone else involved in this decision or in allowing this decision to happen should be ashamed! Those of us who cherish the lives of animals and honor their value to our society should stand up against this, for her sake and for the sake of the animals, so that no decision like this can be made again. What can we do to make our voices heard? —Cari Lombardi

I agree that the wishes of the deceased should be honored in the fashion they laid out on paper. I am soon to be a newly graduated veterinary medicine student and with the current downturn in the economy, the rising cost of higher education and the debt load I am now carrying for my DVM degree, a scholarship fund or endowment to any veterinary school to help those interested in helping animals seems like a good place to start. Hopefully the lawyers will see that Ms. Helmsley had a good idea from the start. —Christie Stone

Thank you for not giving up and still fighting for the animals. They need your unwavering support and relentlessness. I have added your blog to my Facebook account. —Jackie Phillips

What in God's name is wrong with the Surrogate Court, Cuomo and the trustees of this estate? The Surrogate Court was definitely wrong to make this judgment; it flies in the face of decency, to make null the wishes of any decedent. How very absolutely disgusting! Why are wills no longer honored documents? The trustees are so disloyal to ignore the wishes of Leona Helmsley, how could they continue to represent the estate. And as for Cuomo he should spend his time investigating and prosecuting the thieves of Wall Street and the banking community, instead of dishonoring the wishes of the last will and testament of any decedent. —Susanalexis

Companion Animals, Uncategorized

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