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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

St Paul Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Do you have a loved one who may be suffering from exploitation?

When a Minnesota resident has a relative that is incapacitated in some way, they are often good at taking care of them. These vulnerable adults depend on others for almost every need they have. It is important that they are well protected and receive good care. When this is not happening and there may be a situation of physical or financial exploitation, it may be time to talk to an attorney.

What are the rights that a trust beneficiary has?

When a person is a beneficiary on a trust, they may not know all the important details. A trust beneficiary may think that they do not have any rights and that the trustee is in charge. But, beneficiaries in Minnesota do have some rights to make sure the trust is properly managed.

What are some examples of undue influence?

When a Minnesota resident is writing out their will or trust, their heirs expect that it is accurate and what the creator would want. Most of the time this is the case, but occasionally there is undue influence in estate planning. Families should learn what undue influence is and how it can appear in their loved one's estate plan.

3 common reasons estate litigation becomes necessary

If we lived in an ideal world, all disputes would be easy to resolve and families would not get in contentious battles after a loved one’s death. This is often exactly what happens, though, and there are a variety of reasons. Regardless of what led to this point, if you are in such a situation, you should be aware of your legal rights and hire a legal representative if necessary.

The following are three of the most common reasons why estates become the subject of litigation. If you are dealing with one of these or any other problem in probate or estate division, it is important to approach the situation with understanding, patience and knowledge of what to expect.

Can a personal representative or trustee be removed?

It is an all-too-common scenario for many Minnesotans-the personal representative of an estate not performing his duties. Is it possible to have the personal representative removed from the estate?

There are many ways a personal representative of an estate can abuse their duties. A personal representative may not sell the estate's home in a timely manner, which can result in the beneficiaries losing money if property valuation decreases. Or another common situation is when a personal representative uses the deceased person's bank accounts and assets for their own personal benefit. A personal representative may also intentionally hide assets or fail to obtain fair market value for property that is sold. These scenarios can have an impact on the amount of assets beneficiaries receive from the estate.

Is your family involved in a trust dispute?

A family trust is put in place to protect a family's assets and pass along these resources to future generations. But, occasionally these trusts run into family disputes in Minnesota. Trust disputes can be stressful for families and can lead to families suffering long-term consequences.

A trust dispute usually involves questions about a person's inheritance. A person may feel like the trust was the result of undue influence or may have had a lack of capacity. Or there may be a dispute among the beneficiaries such as whether a second wife and second family take precedence over the family from a first marriage. Or do children take preference over grandchildren? Are children who are in a family business being treated differently from those who are not? All of these are valid questions that can result in heated family disputes.

What is an incapacitated person?

Estate planning often has many nuances based on family specifics. Each family is different, and there can be many issues that families run into based on the timing of their estate planning and family dynamics. There are times when a person's mental capacity may be questioned, including if there is a valid will, but in the State of Minnesota, what is an incapacitated person?

Sometimes, an estate plan may be challenged based on a person's mental capacity when it was created. In Minnesota, Minn. Stat. § 524.5-102(6) describes an incapacitated person as:

What are things that can be disputed in a trust?

Many Minnesota residents know how complicated estate matters can get. Not all families have estate plans that are fool proof, and often estate disputes emerge that were not expected. Many times, a person or a group of people will find fault with an aspect of a person's estate plan after they die. A trust dispute is one common occurrence.

Conflicts involving a person's trust are a fact of life. There are many reasons why a person would challenge a trust. One reason is that a trust beneficiary does not believe the trust reflects the person's wishes. A beneficiary may believe that the person was unduly influenced by another person, perhaps a new spouse or someone who may have something to gain from the trust. The grantor may have been manipulated or threatened by another person. A beneficiary may also claim that the grantor did not have the mental capacity to create a trust.

IRA trusts protect heirs

Sometimes, limits should be placed on property going to heirs and beneficiaries. Providing an heir with unlimited access to an inherited individual retirement account may be unwise if the heir has debt or money management problems. Naming an IRA trust as a beneficiary may eliminate some inheritance problems, particularly with larger IRAs.

An IRA trust blocks an heir from receiving funds directly from an IRA when the account owner dies. Otherwise, nothing prevents an heir from withdrawing unlimited funds if they take the minimum distributions required by the Internal Revenue Service.

3 tips for avoiding fights about your estate

Unfortunately, it is common for families to fight over estates. They might argue over who gets specific pieces of property or whether the will is even valid. Once you pass away, you want your loved ones to be happy – not having contentious arguments. If you want to reduce the chances of your heirs fighting, you can follow some simple steps.

Through thorough estate planning and clear communication, you can avoid litigation over your estate. Keep reading for tips on preventing inheritance battles.

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