New York Court Awards Helmsley's Estate Administrators $900K Each

In some cases, death is just the beginning. After that comes estate administration. Estate administration can take many hours and require countless tough decisions with significant economic and emotional repercussions for the deceased's loved ones. In some cases, however, estate administration can be particularly challenging.

New Yorkers may remember the "Queen of Mean," Leona Helmsley. Known for her volatile personality and propensity for grudges, she left behind a $5 billion estate when she died in 2007 at the age of 87. Recently the administrators of her estate made the news for the princely sum they stand to make by administering the estate.

The Manhattan Surrogate Court judge overseeing the administration approved a request by the five executors for $900,000 each to oversee Helmsley's charitable trust and estate from August 20, 2007, to August 20, 2008. During that year, the executors began to wind up Helmsley's real estate empire, settled a dispute involving two grandchildren omitted from Helmsley's will and reduced a $12 million inheritance that Helmsley left to her pooch, Trouble.

According to the judge, although the payout of $4.5 million to the five executors may sound quite large, in reality, given the complexity and size of the estate, it was "modest."

Not everyone agrees though. Prior to the decision, the state attorney general's office challenged the executor's request for $4.5 million. The office called the request excessive and asked the judge to reduce it by half.

Although most people do not have a $5 billion estate to leave behind, Helmsley's case demonstrates the potential time and complexity of unwinding an estate. To make that process smoother, especially in the case of complex estates, it is important to seek professional help.

Source:, "Leona Helmsley's Estate Executors Get $900K Each," James Fanelli, Sept. 4, 2012

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