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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

December 2016 Archives

What is a step-up basis and how does it work?

Although probate disputes oftentimes involve quarrels between family members, many times litigation can result because a family gets challenged by the state or federal taxing authority. In these sorts of cases, estate valuation is often a very important issue since the value of the estate ultimately determines whether taxes are owed, and if so how much tax is owed.

4 common legal grounds for contesting wills

Wills are legal documents intended to dictate how someone wishes to distribute their assets after he or she passes on, but for various reasons, family members of the deceased sometimes have reason to contest a will's contents. The process has obvious complications, with perhaps the most obvious being that the author of the will is no longer available to answer questions about why certain assets were allocated certain ways. This can cause considerable strife within a family, and this is particularly true when one family member receives more than another for reasons that aren't immediate apparent. If you are trying to legally contest a will, you may find it useful to understand the following four commonly cited reasons for doing so.

We fight exploitation of the elderly

Although no one wants to think it happens, many elderly people in Minnesota, even in the Saint Paul area, are exploited by people in their lives who want to take their money. Sometimes, the perpetrator can be a stranger or a newcomer in to the elderly person's life. At other times, the perpetrator is a trusted loved one, even a family member.

Court battle over estate may be coming to a head

A court battle over an estate pending in one of Minnesota's neighboring jurisdictions has taken a rather mysterious turn, as a judge disclosed what he called "explosive" news to several attorneys involved in the litigation, but then ordered the information kept under seal, that is, secret from the general public. The issue revolves around the ownership of a packing company, a family business founded by a now deceased entrepreneur. It seems from a series of estate planning documents, including wills, corporations, and trusts, that the man wanted one of his daughters to run the business after he died.

What does a trustee's duty of impartiality entail?

Among other obligations, a Minnesota trustee has a legal duty to deal impartially with each and every beneficiary of a Minnesota trust, meaning that all people or organizations that stand to benefit financially from the trust have to be treated equitably. While this duty does not always mean that different beneficiaries will get perfectly equal treatment or the treatment that they personally feel is best, the duty does mean that the trustee has to avoid flagrantly promoting the interests of one beneficiary at the expense of another. This could occur by keeping one beneficiary out of the loop as to what is going on with the financial affairs of the trust.

Estate litigation and when a will can be revoked

When a Minnesota resident writes a will, it is an unfortunate reality that estate litigation can sometimes arise with a will contest as part of a legal dispute. Understanding what the law says about the revocation of a will by writing or act is a key factor in knowing whether or not the will a testator crafted is valid. There are certain instances in which a will can be revoked in full or in part.

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