Whether one has a will or not, in Minnesota a court will often appoint a person called an "executor" or "conservator" or "personal representative" to handle the affairs of an estate. His or her job is to make sure the estate collects all property belonging to it, and then distributes that property to heirs according to a person's will or state law, whichever is applicable.
This person is usually entitled to compensation for his or her services, as the job of administering an estate can be mentally taxing and time-consuming. However, probate litigation often results when an executor starts to over-charge for his or her work or, worse, commits a misuse of funds.
A state senator from another state finds herself embroiled in a probate dispute after she and two other people supposedly paid themselves a combined total of $139,999.97 in 2011 alone for fees. The estate has been opened since around 2008. Even in 2012, the state senator still made $2,500 a month for her services as an executor, even though it was not entirely clear what sort of services she was performing on behalf of the estate.
While a personal representative has a right to be paid fair compensation, the heirs of a deceased person should not have to worry about having their inheritance swallowed up in personal representative's fees, especially when those fees have not been earned. If a Minnesota resident who is expecting an inheritance feels an executor is overcharging or otherwise not doing his or her job, the heir may be able to have the personal representative removed.
Source: Watchdog.org, "Senator wrestles heirs over nine-figure Texas fortune," Jon Cassidy, Dec. 17, 2013