Author: Melissa Gordon
Many people will associate big trust funds with their famous beneficiaries (or potential beneficiaries). Without needing to name anyone, you can probably think of a few yourself. In very many cases their massive inheritances leave huge numbers of people wondering what on earth they have done to be so lucky as to receive huge payouts, with more to come when their elderly relatives die. And yet that is just how things are. Money held in trust does not (necessarily) go into a trust fund on the proviso that the potential beneficiary behaves like a decent human being for the rest of their life. In fact, the only thing that generally governs who will benefit from a trust, and how much they will get, is the testator's own discretion - and/or that of the nominated trustee who will manage the fund with them and after their death.About the Author:
This has led to money getting left in trust for some surprising beneficiaries over the years. For example, the hotelier Leona Helmsley - known by many as "the Queen of Mean" - who died in 2007 at the age of 87 from congestive heart disease - left a surprising amount of money in trust for two of her grandchildren. That amount was precisely nothing. The reason she is reputed to have given is that they did not name any of their sons after her late husband Harry. She did, however, leave an amount of $12 million to her white Maltese dog Trouble, as well as a further large amount in trust - believed to be between $5-8billion for dogs in general. Although the trust is not bound to abide by the latter stipulation, Trouble has made out pretty well from Helmsley's death, with a further stipulation stating that she will be buried next to Helmsley in the family mausoleum.
Helmsley had two other grandchildren, and they benefited from her will to the tune of $10million each - but they will lose at least half of that if they do not visit their late father's gravesite once a year. The story does not end there, however. On legal challenge, it was ruled that Helmsley was not of sound mind when she made these bequests, and as a result they were amended by the courts dependent on certain factors. The two disinherited grandchildren were paid $6million and Helmsley's own charitable foundation a further $4million. Where did this extra $10million come from? Trouble.
Because Judge Renee Roth judged that Leona Helmsley was of unsound mind when she made the original bequests, and possibly to save Trouble from becoming the first dog ever to be the victim of a constructive homicide, Roth decided that the grandchildren would be entitled to $6million as long as they maintained a media silence about their dispute with their grandmother. Trouble's caretaker, Carl Lekic, explained that $2million would be more than adequate to keep Trouble in the manner to which she was accustomed for the next ten years - and as a result, numerous death threats against Lekic were dropped.
It seems, then, that there are two lessons here to be learned. One: that you should be nice to anyone who may leave you money. And Two: Even if disinheriting your grandchildren seems like a good revenge, you may wish to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before you actually do it.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.
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