My post dated December 31, 2008, concerned the trust created by Leona Helmsley, specifically, the two page “mission statement” in which she expressed her desire that the trust funds be used for the care and welfare of dogs and “such other charitable activities as the Trustees shall determine.” My previous post discussed the possibility that the mission statement would not be viewed as a legally binding directive.

While Leona may have been steadfast in her commitment to helping man’s best friend, an article in the New York Times dated February 25, 2009, reports that it is now official — the mission statement is “all bark, no bite.” In an Order dated February 18, 2009, Surrogate Troy K. Webber (of Surrogate’s Court, New York County) confirmed that the trustees can distribute the money as they deem appropriate.  Her determination was grounded in the fact that in addition to expressing Ms. Helmsley’s preference for canine causes, the mission statement also gave the trustees discretion in spending the money.