Disgruntled grandchildren and Trouble – the millionaire pooch

A millionaire heiress died at age 12 in December, and we’re just now finding out about it? To me, this seems like a missed opportunity for a reality show. I’m talking of course about Trouble Helmsley, the dog known as “the world’s most pampered pet” who got sick and died at age 84 (that’s dog years).

You may remember hearing about Trouble’s trouble back in 2009 when the pooch received multiple death threats from people angry that her doting owner, billionaire real estate (Hotel) tycoon Leona Helmsley, left her a stunning $12 million in her will. Check out the video – Trouble with Trouble.

So while Trouble hit the jackpot, Helmsley decided to cut two of her grandchildren out of the will. They in turn sued, arguing that their grandmother wasn’t of sound mind when she signed the document in 2005. Disgruntled grown grandchildren Craig Panzirer and Meegan Panzirer Wesolko each received several million in the ensuing deal, and a judge knocked $10 million off Trouble’s inheritance, putting that money back in the 8 billion dollar “Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust” fund.

Nobody knows the Trouble I’ve Seen

Carl Lekic, the general manager of the Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel and the Maltese’s caretaker until her death, told lawyers in 2008 that $2 million would be “enough money to pay for Trouble’s maintenance and welfare (you think?) at the highest standards of care for more than 10 years, which is more that twice her reasonably anticipated life expectancy.”

I love my dogs but I can’t see leaving them all my billions (if I had any to leave) so something must have been up with those grandchildren. Maybe they weren’t the best of relatives – who knows. I’m sure we’ll never hear the real story on all that drama. It’s also noted that apparently, Helmsley’s other, not-disinherited grandson and brother both passed on guarding the “bitey” pooch, according to the New York Post.

Lekic told the Daily News he spent $8,000 for grooming, $1,200 for food, and about $90,000 more per year on a full-time security guard for Trouble. That unspent money will also go back into the trust.

Helmsley’s wishes were to have Trouble buried next to her in the family’s 12,000-square-foot mausoleum, but a Sleepy Hollow Cemetery board member told the Daily News that “no (dead) pets are allowed.” Trouble was cremated instead.

There’s a lesson in here and I’m going to go with this: Make sure to get things in order while your loved ones are of sound mind. The best advice? Contact an estate planner, financial planner, and any other Attorney or planner you can think of to prepare in advance. If not? You’re asking for trouble, and I’m not talking about a dog.

About Sue Salach

Sue has a Master's degree in Gerontology and has worked with the elderly and their families for over 30 years and is the Author of "Along Comes Grandpa", a caregiving resource guide, and the novel "If I Walked in Her Shoes". As an ElderCare Expert and Keynote Speaker, Sue employs her comprehensive experience and passion, to educate and promote self-care values to family caregivers and the community at large.
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4 Responses to Disgruntled grandchildren and Trouble – the millionaire pooch

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