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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Benson trust dispute heading to mediation

As many of our Saint Paul readers know, this blog has followed the ongoing trust litigation between the owner of a professional football team and successful businessman, Tom Benson, and his estranged daughter. Now, it appears that the family will try to air out and resolve their differences through the mediation process.

The case involving an almost $1 billion-dollar trust of Benson's now deceased first wife is currently slated for a jury trial early next year. The jury could decide whether to turn legal control of the trust back over to Benson or could award control to Benson's daughter, who has accused Benson of mismanaging the trust funds and de-valuing the trust.

The judge overseeing the case indicated to lawyers for both sides that he thought mediation might resolve the dispute. He indicated that even if he interpreted all of the evidence in favor of Benson's daughter, it would be undisputed that alleged mismanagement of the trust has only been a recent problem. Moreover, much of the money in the trust ultimately stems from Benson's efforts as a businessman. The judge hoped that opening the lines of communication between Benson and his daughter would resolve the case.

As it stands right now, Benson does not have control of the trust at issue. The judge overseeing this case temporarily removed him and appointed other people to manage the funds in the trust. Benson also had to undo a transfer of trust funds from one bank to another.

Whether the mediation will resolve the case or, at least, put the parties on a path to settlement remains to be seen. What is clear, however, is that for now, both parties are willing to give mediation a try. In fact, mediation may be a good option for anyone facing a trust dispute in Minnesota.

Source: San Antonio Express-News, "Fight for Benson trust headed to a mediator," David Hendricks, Oct. 19, 2015.

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