Trustee Duties Feed

Should Leona Helmsley's Billions Help Dogs As She Wanted?

Leona Helmsley, widely regarded as the “Queen of Mean” before she died at age 87 in 2007, left behind a fortune valued by some to be worth four to eight billion dollars. She earmarked twelve million dollars to take care of her dog, Trouble, until the Judge reduced it to a paltry two million. Leona Helmsley with dog

Helmsley left most of the remainder of her billions to charity, specifically directing that her trustees were to use their discretion for what charitable purposes to benefit. But she also signed a Mission Statement that instructed the trustees to exercise that discretion first for “purposes related to the provision of care for dogs” and, only secondly, for “such other charitable activities as the Trustees shall determine.”

According to published reports, the trustees of Leona Helmsley’s trust have only given away 100,000 dollars to dog-related charities, out of the 450 million dollars they’ve donated so far to charity. That’s only about one-fiftieth of one percent!

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Petition Filed Seeking to Reopen Barnes Art Case

The Friends of the Barnes Foundation group is mounting a last-ditch effort to try to reverse the fate of one of the most valuable private art collections ever assembled.  Dr. Albert Barnes

The late Dr. Albert Barnes gathered together unmatched works of post-impressionist art, including paintings by Van Gogh, Renoir, Picasso, Monet and other masters.  It has not only been widely recognized as the greatest collection of its kind, but it's been valued at more than 25 billion dollars.

Dr. Barnes created a very detailed Trust to maintain the collection in a private facility apart from the commercial art "elite," which he despised.  Given the extraordinary value of the collection -- both monetarily and artistically -- perhaps it should be no surprise that the art elite of Philadelphia have done everything they can to get their hands on the collection.

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Forbes Video on the 2011 Estate Tax Law Changes

Most of us know that we have new estate tax laws in 2011, but do you know the "ins" and "outs"?  How does a married couple qualify for the ten-million dollar exemption?  What pitfalls remain?  When does the exemption expire?  Forbes_home_logo

There may be more involved in the new laws than you realize! Watch Danielle Mayoras' video interview with Forbes to make sure that you protect yourself, your family and clients under the new laws.

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Walt Disney heirs embroiled in ugly family feud

Walt Disney World is a great vacation spot and a wonderful way to spend the holidays.  We just returned from there with our three children.  So it's ironic that we recently learned about a messy court fight involving two of Disney's grandchildren and their share of the massive Disney fortune.  Disney

Disney passed in 1966 at the age of 65.  He left behind two daughters and 10 grandchildren.  One of his two daughters, Sharon Mae Disney, had married and then divorced a real estate developer named Bill Lund.  Lund was the man who located and helped select Orlando, Florida as the site for Disney World.  Sharon and Bill had twins, born in 1970, named Michelle and Brad.

Sharon created trusts to pass on her share of the Disney fortune to her three children (her other child was from a prior marriage).  Under the trusts, the twins were entitled to substantial distributions. 

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Texas multimillionaire subject to massive guardian battles

Ugo di Portanova.  Quite a name . . . and quite a story.  The Houston Chronicle had an interesting feature today about this heir to a massive oil fortune.  Di Portanova has assets valued at more than $65 million (which he largely inherited).  So you'd assume he'd wield great power with all that money, right?  Sadly, it's just the opposite. Di Portanova

Di Portanova has been declared legally incapacitated (at least in part) continuously since 1967.  After a long fight, he won the right to manage $1,000 per month, marry who he wants, and make a will.  But he lost his quest to end the guardianship, so he has almost no say in management of his own money or other important decisions in his life.

Diagnosed with schizophrenia, di Portanova, now age 74, has lost more than the right to make most of his financial and other decisions.  He has also lost many millions of dollars to exorbitant legal fees, guardian and trustee salaries, court costs, and related expenses.  The Chronicle reviewed decades worth of court records and tabbed the total bill at more than $50 million. 

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Michael Jackson living trust revealed

With so much exposure and scrutiny on everything that's happened to Michael Jackson's estate since he died, it should probably come as no surprise that his living trust has been leaked to the media and made public.  Wills are public documents and available for everyone to read (once they are filed with the probate court after someone dies).  Accordingly, the Michael Jackson will has been floating around for months.Michael Jackson Trial and Heirs

Trusts, however, are another matter.  Living trusts are intended to be private documents, operating outside of the court process (unless there is a dispute or challenge). 

Someone decided to sneak a copy of Michael Jackson's living trust document to the press, and a British website has the complete document online for your reading pleasure.  Click here to read the Michael Jackson Family Trust

Note that the website mistakenly refers to this document as his "Will" -- it's actually his trust, not his will. 

So what does the King of Pop's trust reveal?

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