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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Sisters claim brothers are stealing their inheritance

When Minnesotans execute a will, they expect it to make sure their wishes are carried out after they have passed away. But there is frequently a lot of work to be done later to make sure those wishes are carried out. That is why those who write a will must appoint an executor.

Executors often have a lot of power over what to do with the estate, and it can be difficult for anyone else to know when they are using that power inappropriately. When executors abuse their position for their own gain, they can deprive others of their rightful inheritance.

Recently, three sisters filed suit against three of their brothers and a law firm, claiming that they were deprived of their rightful inheritance from their late parents’ animal rendering firm. Their damages could run to the hundreds of millions of dollars.

According to their lawsuit, the two oldest sons were appointed as executors of their parents’ wills and abused that position to give themselves beneficial deals on stock, real estate and other assets of the firm. The sisters also claim that another brother and the law firm conspired with the eldest brothers to violate their late parents’ wishes and deal themselves large portions of the inheritance. The company sold for $840 million in 2010.

The sisters claim that their parents intended their 12 children to share their inheritance equally. Instead, they say, the eldest sons have enriched themselves at their siblings’ expense. Among other things, they claim that the brothers sold a $6 million piece of real estate held by the company to a holding company they controlled for only $1.

Lawsuits over inheritances can be painful as they pit family members against each other. However, a suit over a will is in some ways a defense of a deceased loved one’s legacy. Minnesota residents who write a will put their trust in executors to see that their wishes are carried out. When those executors abuse that trust, it may be up to the other heirs and beneficiaries to see that their loved ones’ true wishes are honored.

Source: Cincinnati.com, “Griffin siblings take inheritance fight to federal court,” Dave Malaska, May 16, 2013

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