Leona Helmsley's Little Rich Dog Trouble Dies in Luxury


A Will is Last Chance to Settle Scores

"Most states really try to honor whatever you put in your will," said Elizabeth Schwartz, a Florida lawyer who focuses on probate. "People see this as their final 'screw you' or 'I love you.'

"I always tell people, 'Do what you want to do,'" she said.

According to the popular "People's Book of Lists," a Londoner willed his fortune to his sons "on the strict condition that they would not inherit the legacy if they became members of Parliament or undertook any form of public office, speculate on stock exchange, convert to any other religion or even marry outside the Jewish faith."

Consider these other quirky one-liners that have surfaced in the last will and testament:

"To my son, I leave the pleasure of earning a living, which he had not done in 35 years."

"To my daughter, I leave $1,000. She will need it. The only good piece of business her husband ever did was to marry her."

"To my valet I leave the clothes he has been stealing from me regularly for the past 10 years. Also my fur coat that he wore last winter when I was in Palm Beach."

"To my chauffeur, I leave my cars. He almost ruined them and I want him to have the satisfaction of finishing the job."

"To my wife: She has been troubled with one old fool, she should not think of marrying a second."

Often, said Schwartz, the dying are hesitant to spell out their rancor in their wills, for fear there will be a dramatic reading and embarrass them.

"You're going to be dead," she said, "so don't let the guilt drive you."

Other dogs have had their day in wills. In 2000, Gunther IV, a German shepherd who was passed a fortune inherited by his father, Gunther III, bought a home in Florida, according to Slate.com.

The first Gunther was the sole inheritor of the estate of Countess Carlotta Liebenstein in 1992.

This was no sleeping crate -- the 8,432-square-foot waterfront mansion once belonged to Madonna. His press handlers said at the time the $150 million price tag was burning a hole in his bank account.

The "moneyed mutt" also owns several homes in Italy and the Bahamas and put down a bid on Sylvester Stallone's mansion, according to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

An estimated 80 percent of Americans do not have wills, according to Schwartz. Wills are challenged only about 10 percent of the time and there is usually a "high burden of proof" if someone feels slighted, she said.

Beware, too, the "chatty will," say probate attorneys.

"You always want to make the will as challenge-less as possible," said Schwartz. "If there is a situation where there's a sister you want to cut out of your will, don't say, 'I don't want to provide for her because she slept with my high school boyfriend.'"

"The sister can challenge that and say she was misinformed to the facts," she said.

Better to use an old-school line to stiff a relative: "I do not provide to her for reasons that are known to her."

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