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St. Paul Minnesota Probate And Estate Litigation Law Blog

Worried about the executor? You can ask the court for a new one

You and your sibling both want to take a primary role in your parents' estate plan. You feel that you have more education, time and money to help them settle the estate when the time comes. Your sibling thinks that they should be the executor, because they want to be in control of making sure your parents' wishes are understood and carried out.

The problem is that your parents have assigned your uncle to be the executor, and both of you disagree with that decision. He has said before that you and your sister shouldn't get anything out of the estate. He isn't friendly to you and is clearly biased.

Could an estate dispute be brewing among your family members?

Estate disputes rarely arise out of the ether. Typically, there are indications that all may not be aboveboard with a family member in the months or even years prior to their death.

Sometimes, a protracted and expensive legal battle can be averted if you tune in to what is going on with your elderly family member. Particularly, you should take note of who spends the most time around them and who may be influencing the decisions that they have made or are contemplating making. Below are some signs that a family member may be susceptible to undue influence regarding their will or estate.

Fraud allegations for a Minnesota last will can be hard to prove

It is common for people to experience shock and even disappointment over what their loved one includes or doesn't include in a last will or estate plan. Most of the time, that disappointment stems from unrealistic expectations. However, it is also possible that the last will or estate plan does not accurately reflect the wishes or intentions of the testator.

For example, it could be possible for a caregiver to exert undue influence on someone in a compromised medical state or for someone to change their last will after a protracted period of cognitive decline has left them legally incapable of executing documents. These issues can lead to challenges against the last will in Minnesota probate court.

Do you suspect that undue influence impacted a last will?

Losing someone you love is never easy, but it can be particularly difficult when you believe that other people intend to subvert your loved one's wishes and cut you out of the estate. Family conflicts often arise during the administration of large estates.

People whom you have known and trusted your entire life can behave in uncharacteristically greedy, selfish or cruel manners when a large amount of money is on the line. Some people, including children or spouses who serve as caretakers, may go so far as pressuring someone in their final years to remove other beneficiaries from their estate plan for their own personal gain.

Alternatives to trial can resolve estate disputes faster

When your loved one passed away, you thought things were bad enough. Nothing could have prepared you for the way your family reacted, though. Suddenly, there were disputes over some of the most trivial things, and you have had to step in to make sure your loved one's wishes were carried out accurately.

You want to avoid trial. It's costly and time-intensive. So, what can you do? Here are two options that you may want to consider. Both mediation and arbitration can keep a case out of the court room while still allowing it to be settled in a reasonable amount of time. You may save time, money and your family's relationship by choosing one of these two options.

When can you have an estate’s personal representative removed?

When a Minnesota resident leaves behind a large and complex estate, the process of settling the assets often goes through formal probate. One of the first steps is the appointment of a personal representative who then becomes responsible for the estate’s administration.

Once appointed, the personal representative must collect and inventory the estate’s assets, pay the bills, repay outstanding debts and maintain the estate’s value. A good representative will work in an orderly and transparent fashion. On the other hand, a bad representative can significantly reduce the estate’s value. In such a case, someone with an interest in the estate may want to call for the representative's removal.

Who can be a personal representative?

A personal representative, sometimes called an executor, is someone that the decedent chose, or who the court appointed, to settle his or her estate based on the directions in his or her will. This person is one of several fiduciaries that could be associated with the estate.

Almost anyone can be named a personal representative, but typically people choose spouses, siblings or children. Minnesota only requires that the personal representative is at least 18 years old and of sound mind. Due to the responsibilities expected of a personal representative, it is often prudent that the personal representative is also organized, adept in communication and located near most of the assets.

How the court decides if a will is valid

Losing a loved one is hard. It is particularly difficult when you suspect his or her wishes are not being respected. This happens if your loved one's will seems to have been tampered with.

However, proving your loved one's will is invalid can be difficult. Here are four reasons a court may decide a will is not legally binding. 

Disagreements in blended families can lead to probate litigation

Disagreements between members of blended families can go on subtly for years. Often there is one family member who glues the others together as a family, and when that person dies, the smoldering disagreements can escalate into probate litigation. Stepmothers and their stepchildren may be especially prone to disagreements when it comes to the estate of the family's patriarch.

A news article on the subject suggests that short marriages may be partially to blame for this phenomenon. When short marriages affect long-term estate plans, the possibility of undue influence seems possible, especially when the estate plan favors the children's stepmother. Other potential factors in this phenomenon include the stepmother favoring her own children, disagreements about where the deceased's body will rest, and important information about final arrangements being hidden.

For Assistance with Estate Disputes & Other Matters, Contact Us

To learn more about the firm and how we can assist you,
contact Mason & Helmers in St. Paul, Minnesota. Call 651-323-2548 or 877-389-5533 (toll free) to set up an appointment.

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