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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Historic Minnesota farm, the subject of legal dispute

A historic farm in Minnesota that is on a national registry is now the subject of ongoing legal disputes that appear to be escalating. The farm is historic because it was once the home of a 19th century immigrant to the Minnesota area from Sweden. The immigrant kept a journal, which now has great significance both to Carver County, Minnesota, and to those of Swedish heritage.

In the 1970s, a man bought the farm and, eventually, began to recognize its historical importance. The farmland was eventually divided into four legal parcels of land. The man conveyed 20 acres of the land to his sons, but gave the remaining 50 acres to a historical society near the end of his life. According to the deed that the man signed, the historical society would get the land upon the man's death. Reportedly, the man also signed an agreement with the historical society that would give them access to the land.

Now, the two sons are refusing to honor the access agreement and also have suggested that their late father did not validly give the property to the historical society. The sons specifically state that their father was a victim of undue influence and also did not have capacity to give the property because of some ongoing issues with his health. At this point, it is not clear when a Minnesota court will take up these legal disputes, but a preliminary hearing is scheduled in the near future.

Aside from being of general interest to history buffs and residents of Carver County, this case goes to show that, even when a person attempts to transfer property by a deed, as opposed to a traditional will, a probate fight can still emerge, particularly, if family members are not happy that a charitable organization or other not-for-profit is getting the land. In these sorts of situations, an experienced probate litigation attorney can be helpful.

Source: Shakopee Valley News, "Legal action grows on historic farm in Carver County," Richard Crawford, Jan. 30, 2014

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