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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

January 2012 Archives

At issue: fiduciary duties and the Etta James estate

Minnesotans are known for being very polite and generous people, and not too quick to offend. These admirable traits are just a few things that make living in Minnesota special. However, that these good qualities are the norm may sometimes result in Twin Cities residents' not being particularly comfortable in discussing a loved one's end-of-life wishes. Indeed, many families throughout the country put off important decisions regarding wills, trusts, guardianships, conservatorships and other estate planning matters, and too often the end result is problems with probate.

How should online accounts fit into a will?

Many Twin Cities residents maintain online accounts that hold all manner of personal data, including pictures, bills, bank statements, emails and other sensitive records. And, as readers in Minnesota may be aware, online accounts can potentially cause probate disputes should the account holder become deceased. That is, unless an end-of-life document names a trusted individual to use the necessary passwords and handle the online content. Additionally, businesses such as eBay and Etsy store transaction records online, so if a deceased person has funds in that sort of account, then the funds may continue to float there, inaccessible, if a trusted person isn't named in the deceased person's will. All of these issues could potentially cause problems in probate.

Minnesota senator proposes bill to protect vulnerable seniors

A senator from Minnesota has proposed legislation that is meant to protect seniors, the disabled and other vulnerable people from neglect and abuse by their guardians. To address these issues, United States Senator Amy Klobuchar held a discussion recently in an assisted-living facility in Duluth. She thinks new legislation is necessary based on recent governmental reports, her experiences as a Hennepin County attorney, and the troubles of a Saint Paul woman whose mother was taken advantage of by her guardians.

Family and widow of late boxer in international probate dispute

Minnesotans probably know that preventing probate litigation is often a meticulous matter involving careful thought about one's assets and their distribution. That may be especially true when a will involves a great many assets. With these issues in mind, readers in the Twin Cities may be interested to hear of a will contest involving parties from across national borders. What makes the case complex are the apparently conflicting end-of-life wishes expressed by a late boxer from Brazil. Now the boxer's young widow is in a probate dispute with his family, who allege that the young woman had schemed all along to acquire the boxers' wealth.Arturo Gatti was a well-known Brazilian boxer who passed away in 2009. Three years earlier in New Jersey, Gatti met a young woman 14 years his junior and fell in love with her. Soon they were married, and they had a child shortly afterward. Terrible as it may seem, members of the Gatti's family have alleged that his wife murdered him while they were on vacation in Brazil.

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