Leona Helmsley (1920-2007) – Hotelier, Real Estate Investor
Leona Helmsley was an American businesswoman known for her flamboyant personality. She had a reputation for tyrannical behavior that earned her the nickname Queen of Mean. Leona was a condominium broker in 1968 when she met and began her involvement with then-married multimillionaire real estate entrepreneur Harry Helmsley. Harry Helmsley divorced his wife of 33 years and married Leona in 1972. Together the couple concentrated on the hotel industry and by the beginning of 1989, twenty-three (23) hotels in their chain were directly controlled by Leona Helmsley. Following allegations by unpaid contractors that work done on her home had been charged to her company, Leona was investigated and convicted of federal income tax evasion and other crimes in 1989. Yet despite her success in the real estate industry and as a hotelier, here is what happened to her estate.
- Her Will gave $12 million to her pet dog, Trouble.
- She disinherited 2 grandchildren.
- The other 2 grandchildren must visit their father’s grave every year or lose their inheritance.
Leona Helmsley was a famous hotelier and but even famous hoteliers and real estate investors can make an unreasonable estate plan. You decide. Is $12.0 million to a dog and requiring children to annually visit their father’s grave make Leona Helmsley a legacy champ or chump?
If you want to implement a reasonable estate plan and need help doing so, then contact The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. for a free initial consultation on estate planning, trust planning, and/or probate issues.