It is often said in Minnesota that a family's conflicts over inheritance lie under the surface, but one family's intergenerational business battle is truly subterranean. The heirs of the family that owns one of the most-visited underground caves in the nation has been fighting among themselves in court for years.
The author J.R.R. Tolkien was famous for writing "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings," epic fantasy stories about a major battle over who has the rights to old treasures like a gold ring and a broken sword. But the success of Tolkien's novels and the movies based on them has created a treasure of its own. Powerful forces are now fighting over bits of his legacy like Frodo fighting Gollum over the fires of Mount Doom.
When a person dies without a valid will, the state figures out how to distribute the person's estate based on what's called the law of intestate succession. Minnesota, like every other state, has a law that decides whom the heirs of the estate will be in these cases. Sometimes, these cases are fairly straightforward, as when the deceased person has left behind a spouse or children to inherit property. Sometimes, however, these cases are much harder to handle
Minnesota music fans may have been following the battle surrounding singer James Brown's estate. A recent court ruling means that the saga is far from over.