Wacky Wills

Wacky Wednesday: Wills That Make You Go “Hmmm…” Leslie Ann Mandel

by Rania Combs

birdNB: This post is part of a series highlighting wills that contain some interesting, and sometimes bizarre, bequests and stipulations. You can see all these posts here.

Leslie Ann Mandel loved her animals: 32 cockatiels who live in an aviary located on her property in East Hampton, a cat named Dragon and a dog named Frosty.  So much so, that she made special provisions for them in her Will.

Page 2 of her Will identifies each of the birds by name: Wheetie, Port, Blackie, Zippy, Tara, Zara, Shasha, Pigeon, Victory, Alie, Zack 12, Dart, Cubby, Max, Baby, Ruthie, Pumpkin, Tattoo, Susie, Tracy, Margie, Sammy, Angel, Inky, Sara, Tundra, Tanteleah, Eva, Cody, Nicki, Avis and Dragon. It directs that $100,000 be held in a trust managed by her stepson to care for the birds, her cat, and her dog for the rest of their natural lives.

Ms. Mandel asked that the birds continue to live an aviary located on her property, but allowed the animals to be moved to a “protected place of similar size and dimension, made of the same materials, without a cage, for the rest of their natural lives.”

She asked that income and principal from the trust be used to provide for the animal’s health and maintenance. Specifically, she wanted the birds fed and the aviary to be cleaned each Monday and Thursday. She also specified what type of food the birds should be fed: Avi-Cakes, carrots, water, and popcorn.

Unfortunately, the fact that Ms. Mandel made so many handwritten modifications to her Will may result in it being declared invalid if New York’s laws are anything like the laws in Texas.

In Texas, alterations and interlineations made before a Testator executes a typewritten Will are valid, but changes made after the Testator signs a Will have no effect. Regardless of the changes made, the Will must be probated as originally written, without regard for the changes, unless the changes were made with formalities required for making a Will.

Additionally, if the testator makes so many interlineations that it impossible to establish the terms of the Will when it was written, then the Will may be denied probate.

About Rania

Rania graduated magna cum laude from South Texas College of Law Houston and is the founder of Rania Combs Law, PLLC. She has been licensed to practice law since 1994 and enjoys helping clients in Texas and North Carolina create estate plans that give them peace of mind.

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