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Longest running probate contest in the country?

Some Minnesota residents may have had the misfortune to be involved in an extended probate dispute. Probate administration can oftentimes involve prolonged and painful litigation. However, most resident experiences may well pale in comparison to a probate battle that has waged since at least the early 1980s.

The story behind this case involves a man who immigrated to this country and managed to build up a thriving business. Once he established this business, he turned to investing in real estate. Although some of his heirs believe that his real estate was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, they admit that it is difficult to get an exact value on the man's assets.

Still, the man's family are accusing the man's former business partner and an attorney of what may amount to self-dealing or some other breach of trust. Both of these men were expected to hold the rental properties in trust for the benefit of the immigrant's children. However, the children say that, at least on paper, they instead sold properties worth hundreds of thousands for dollars for around $58,000.

Although the former business partner died several years ago and the attorney is now retired from the practice of law, the attorney's law firm is still entangled in litigation with the heirs of this man's estate. They suggest that there is a different side to this story, saying that the children got what they deserved from the estate and that there was no wrongdoing.

In any event, probate litigation can be prolonged, expensive and emotionally draining. For those families in Minnesota who are having to go through a will contest, a trust dispute or other probate battle, it may be best to rely upon experienced legal counsel.

Source: WPRI, "Legal fight over 'fortune' spans four decades", Walt Buteau, May 21, 2014

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Mason & Helmers
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