Bronx widow leaves $300K to her cats

In her will, Bronx widow Ellen Frey-Wouters left $300,000 to Troy and Tiger, her two cats. Her will instructed the money be used to make sure they would “never be caged” and always be lovingly cared for.

The New York Post quotes Dahlia Grizzleto, a former health aide Frey-Wouters and now caretaker of the cats as saying, “He deserves it… He’s a wonderful cat.”

Frey-Wouters, who died in 2015 was born in the Netherlands and worked for the United Nations. Her husband, a Brooklyn College professor, passed away in 1989, and the couple’s only child died in infancy.

Troy lives with Rita Pohila, another one of Frey-Wouters’ former home health aides. Pohila, declined to discuss Troy with The Post — invoking the shy feline’s “privacy” rights. Tiger made out like a bandit.He was a former alley cat who i snow living large in Ocala, Florida,  dining on filet- ­mignon-flavored Fancy Feast and bedding down in a plush faux-fur bed with silk lining.

Frey-Wouters attorney, Irwin Fingerit was surprised the the bequest

“I said I didn’t think, you know, $300,000 was necessary, and I pointed out the case of the Queen of Mean, Leona Helmsley, who left $65,000 to a dog and became sort of a laughingstock,’’ Fingerit said during a 2016 hearing about the gift. (Helmsley actually left $12 million to her Maltese, Trouble.)

“But no, no, [Frey-Wouters] insisted,” Fingerit said. “She wanted to make sure they were taken care of.”

When the cats die, the balance of their trust fund will go to Frey-Wouters’ only living family member, a sister in the Netherlands.

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Law enacted to allow State Police widow to collect husband’s pension

A law enacted in 2015 by the New York State Legislature overturns an Appeals Court decision upholding the denial of benefits to the widow of a State Police Officer. The law was signed by Governor Cuomo. It was specifically designed for one specific case.

On December 7, 2009, seven minutes after State Trooper investigator Richard O’Brien died as a result of injuries sustained in a fall in a non-employment related accident, his application for retirement disability was received by fax at the New York State and Local Retirement System. His wife was denied his benefits because his application was received seven minutes after his death.

In a challenge to the denial, a divided Appeals Court ruling found that the wife of a State Trooper was not unfairly denied disability retirement benefits due to a 7-minute filing delay.  The medical records show that O’Brien died at 6:24 pm and his application was not received until 6:31 pm.

In his dissent, Justice Jame C. Egan, Jr wrote:

[w]henever a statute requires that a document be filed with the…[C]omptroller…within a prescribed period of time or by a specified date, and such document has been mailed…by…certified mail, return receipt requested, the document shall be deemed filed on the date of mailing” (emphasis added). Similarly, the regulation provides that “[w]henever a statute requires that [a] document be filed with the Comptroller…within a prescribed period of time or by a specified date, such document will be considered filed on the date that it has been successfully transmitted via facsimile…to the Retirement System”

A spokesman for Cuomo said, after the enactment of the law

This was an extraordinary situation, where the family of a decorated member of the New York State Police was denied benefits due to bureaucracy and circumstances outside of their control. “Simply put, signing this bill righted a wrong.

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When preparing a Last Will, anyone with a frequent flyer air miles
account should include those miles as an asset that can be transferred
upon death. As air fares continue to rise, your air miles account is a
valuable asset not to be overlooked.

Some airlines rules state that their miles are not transferable upon death.
However, those policies are flexible and a persistent executor can usually
be successful. United Airlines says that they decide these matters
“on a case by case basis”. Delta says their agents have flexibility.

Reward miles from American Express are definitely transferable, so long
as the account remains open. Same rules apply to hotel points.

Thus, when you meet with your lawyer to prepare your Last Will,
remember to prepare a list of all your assets including any frequent
flier miles and rewards program points. They add up. If you forget
to list them, chances are your executor will not be aware of this asset
and they will be lost forever.
For more information, please call me at 212 693-3737

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