Leona Helmsley cut two of her relatives out of billions

Leona Helmsley, a wealthy American businesswoman and real estate investor, gained notoriety for her estate planning decisions, which included cutting her relatives out of her inheritance.

Ever fantasize about inheriting millions from a dead rich relative? Now imagine if fantasy became reality and those riches were up for grabs, only to be cruelly yanked away.

Craig and Meegan Panzirer are the grandchildren of the now deceased Leona Helmsley, a wealthy businesswoman from New York who was infamously dubbed the “Queen of Mean” by the media. The reigning matriarch of the family had amassed a fortune after dabbling in real estate and marrying a like-minded real estate tycoon. Helmsley had a reputation for being overbearing and difficult to pretty much everyone, including her staff, business associates, and even her grandchildren. Her reputation is further sullied by the fact that she was also indicted on several charges of tax evasion, only ever serving a twelve-month prison sentence.

Always one to have her way, she unceremoniously dumped both of her grandchildren (Craig and Meegan) from her Last Will and Testament “for reasons known to them.” She had FOUR grandchildren, and only two grandchildren were given an inheritance when she died in 2007 at the age of 87. Their  inheritance went to the care and security of Leona’s precious Maltese dog named Trouble (security for the dog had to be boosted after the dog received multiple death threats). The disinherited grandchildren challenged the will in court, but the legal challenge was unsuccessful. The court upheld the will as valid and found that Helmsley had the right to dispose of her assets as she saw fit. The $12 million used to take care of the dog was eventually overturned by a judge who slashed to $2 million. Leona’s chauffeur, Nicholas Celea, made out nicely with a cool $100,000 left behind in her Last Will as well. The rest of the money went to various charities. 

Craig and Meegan Panzirer were eventually awarded $6 million from her Last Will. 

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