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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

St Paul Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Undue influence and contesting a will

Unfortunately, not all estates in Minnesota are settled easily. Occasionally, a will is contested by someone who feels that there was a problem with it. Many times, they contest the will claiming there was undue influence at the time the will was written.

How to determine the value of an estate

When a person passes away, their heirs and other family members are there to help settle the estate. This can be a complicated process, especially if the person has quite a few assets that need to be settled. An estate needs to have a valuation completed, but how is that done?

How do family members invalidate wills?

When a Minnesota resident has taken the time to create an estate plan, they believe it will be followed after their death. A person's will is an important document that helps a family understand how their loved one wants their assets distributed after their death. When a family squabbles over a will, they may want to work to invalidate it.

There are several ways a family can invalidate a will. A person can say that the will was not properly signed according to state laws. If proper procedures are not followed for signing the will, it may be invalidated. A person can also claim that the person who created the will or trust lacked capacity. For a person to have capacity to write a will, they would have to understand their assets, their family relationships and the legal ramifications of having a will. Undue influence is another way a family can invalidate a will. Undue influence can happen if the person creating the will changed the will because of another person's influence. Finally, if a person signs a will that is fraudulent, the will can be invalidated. If the person believes they are signing a different document or will, then it would be a fraudulent will.

How to manage inheritance disputes

No one expects they will be involved in an inheritance dispute among other heirs. But, this becomes the reality for many families in Minnesota. There are many approaches a family can take to minimize inheritance conflict.

Preventing estate conflicts before they arise cannot always be done. But, thinking about where problems may occur may be a good idea for those who are working on estate planning issues. An estate plan should be updated regularly, as marriages, births, divorces, and other situations can change an estate plan. Also, personal property should be addressed and listed separately in an estate plan. Many heirs bicker over who should receive what and having this specified before a person dies can be a good idea.

Has there been a breach of fiduciary duty?

When a loved one passes away, they often leave an estate behind for their loved ones to figure out. These estates can cause a family stress and disagreements. Those who are put in charge of an estate may not be doing their duty as far as trust administration and there can be fiduciary issues.

Helping you resolve estate valuation issues during probate

Nowadays, individuals in Minnesota and elsewhere understand the importance of establishing an estate plan. Taking this step not only protects the individual and their wishes when it comes to property and asset distribution, but it also protects the loved ones of the individual. It can be difficult to put our future wishes and intentions in writing; however, this can prove to be a very beneficial and vital step to take. Thus, it is important to understand how to draft an estate plan, set up a trust and what steps are necessary to make these documents valid.

Contesting a will or a trust is not unheard of. In fact, if heirs and beneficiaries do not agree with what they see and hear when an estate plan is administered, it is likely that litigation could follow. Maybe an heir believes they are owed a certain amount or a specific item or maybe they are under the impression that the estate was not properly valued, making divestments improper.

North Face and Esprit founder's children fighting over estate

When a parent dies, they hope that their children will settle their estate fairly. But, even the best intentioned plans often end in a family dispute. The founder of 1980s clothing brand, Esprit, has family involved in an estate dispute.

In 2015, the co-founder of North Face and Esprit, Douglas Tompkins, died in an accident in Chile. He had two daughters from his first marriage. In his will, he left all of his assets to his second wife and foundations that they had created in Chile and Argentina to preserve open space. He left none of his estate to his daughters or his 5 grandchildren. One of his daughters is contesting the will in both the United States and Chile. She argues that because he established permanent residency in Chile, the trust he established in California was not valid. The attorney for his widow refutes these claims and says that she was left out of the will because of her lifestyle and values.

Not keeping up with estate expenses can cause serious issues

Estate executors have an important job to do for all people who have an interest in the estate. In Minnesota, there are many duties they are delegated to take on. When these duties are not completed, it can lead to probate complications among heirs & beneficiaries.

How to avoid will disputes

Every adult should create a will laying out where assets and money will go to upon the writer's death. While the individual should do everything in his or her power to ensure it is a fair and equitable division of assets, disputes can arise from anything. Sometimes siblings, children or spouses feel left out or feel they should receive more. 

When writing wills, people should be cognizant of how this paperwork can affect loved ones. Therefore, it is prudent to take actions before death to ensure there is no ill will in the future between family members. 

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