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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

September 2013 Archives

Relatives in court battle over $300 million estate

When a person dies and leaves a will, a Minnesota probate court must look to that will as the person's final say on how all his or her assets should be distributed. The court looks to make sure all the formal requirements were met in making the will and checks to make sure it holds up in all other respects, and then does as the person wished. However, it sometimes a will appears to meet all the formal requirements, but nonetheless it doesn't fully represent what the deceased family member wanted. When the heirs and beneficiaries suspect that someone has exerted undue influence on the deceased or that the deceased wasn't thinking properly at the time the will was written, it may be time for a will contest.

"The Jeffersons" actor's estate roiled by legal battles

The late Sherman Hemsley is best remembered as the actor who played George Jefferson on the classic television sit-coms "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons," but in more recent times, his name has been at the center of extraordinary legal battles over his legacy. The family disputes over his will were so intense and bizarre that they prevented his body from being buried until four months after his death.

Inheritance dispute pits billionaire families against each other

There has been a lot of talk this year about how legalizing same-sex might change the make-up of the typical Minnesota family, but in fact it has been changing for decades. Divorce and remarriage are common, and so are family gatherings that include ex-spouses, children and step children, and various permutations of these relationships in each generation. These relationships can be just as wonderful as more traditional family relationships, but they aren't immune to traditional family arguments. And when these difficulties develop into legal battles, they can become very complicated.

Preserving a family business from one generation to the next

Family businesses are a vital part of the economy in Minnesota and the nation as a whole. In fact, family businesses are responsible for as much as half the nation's gross domestic product, according to some studies. They're also responsible for about 60 percent of American jobs, and about 80 percent of new jobs being created.

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