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St. Paul Minnesota Probate And Estate Litigation Law Blog

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.

Dividing Paul Allen's empire will not come easy

Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, passed away recently. Allen leaves no spouse or children to inherit his vast $26 billion fortune and considerable assets. This leaves the question of which individuals and what companies may inherit the Allen estate.

Allen's success began in 1975 when he and Bill Gates founded the software juggernaut Microsoft in Gates' garage in Albuquerque. In the years since, Allen built significant success in real estate, venture capital, professional sports teams, philanthropic ventures and other endeavors.

Can you leave your spouse out of your will?

In Minnesota, there can be estate situations in which a person wants to leave their spouse out of their will or other uncommon events. When this occurs, it is important that estate documents are drawn up correctly or there can be many complications among heirs.

Although it is uncommon, there are situations in which a person would want to disinherit their spouse. Disinheriting a spouse is not always because the spouses do not get along, but can be for financial reasons as well. A person may feel like their spouse has enough assets in their own name and a person would rather give the assets to other people. Or, a person wants to avoid an influx of estate taxes that could happen if their spouse's estate gets too large.

Siblings excluded from will may pursue estate litigation

Many Minnesota residents have taken the time to create a will that passes their assets to their family members. Most of the time, the assets are distributed evenly among siblings, but occasionally a person distributes their assets in a different way. If siblings do not receive an equal portion of the assets, an estate may face a legal challenge.

When siblings do not receive an equal portion of their parent's will, especially if it's unexpected, they can feel like something happened that shouldn't have with their parent's estate. A sibling can feel like it's unfair that they didn't receive something they were expecting. In this situation, siblings may find that they need to challenge the will.

Can you revoke a power of attorney?

Many Minnesota residents have taken the time to designate a power of attorney. But sometimes a person has the need to revoke a power of attorney. There are a few different ways a person can change or remove a designated power of attorney.

There are a few ways a power of attorney can be removed. First, there can be a date and time specified on a power of attorney. There are certain circumstances where a termination date is listed for a power of attorney that would void the document. The second way a power of attorney ends is if the principal dies. The third way a power of attorney can end is with written revocation. The principal needs to issue the written revocation and the power of attorney has to have actual knowledge of the revocation.

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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Mason & Helmers
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