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How Minnesota residents can avoid probate disputes

The last thing that many Minnesota residents would want to see is their families locked in a probate dispute with each other after they die. Will conflicts and other disputes over inheritances take a huge toll in terms of time, money and emotional stress.

Although some probate disputes in Minnesota are simply unavoidable, Minnesotans can take a few simple steps that will reduce the possibility of a conflict arising in the first place. Moreover, should a conflict arise despite a person's best efforts to prevent it. These same steps can at least stop a family dispute from turning to ugly, protracted litigation.

The first, and perhaps the easiest, thing a person can do to prevent a probate fight after his or her death is to make sure that all documents are properly updated and current, while the person is still in good health, fully and obviously capable of making such important decisions. A person should update not only his or her will, but also documents, like beneficiary designations or designations on bank accounts and deeds, as a person may have built considerable savings in accounts, like IRAs and insurance policies. These types of accounts typically do not pass to the next generation under a will.

When making these updates, a Minnesota resident should also remember to communicate early, often and thoroughly with his or her loved ones so that they know the resident's wishes and why he or she has made these decisions. Good communication does a great deal to snuff out a probate battle before one even gets started and can also serve as useful evidence, should litigation prove inevitable.

Finally, Minnesotans making their wills should remember that "equal" and "fair" are not always one and the same. Each beneficiary under a will should be treated as an individual and should have his or her contributions individually weighed.

Although these tips may prove helpful in preventing or diminishing a family conflict, sometimes, probate litigation simply cannot be avoided. In these circumstances, an experienced Minnesota probate litigation attorney may prove to be of valuable assistance.

Source: The Fiscal Times, "4 wise ways to avoid a family feud among heirs," Sheryl Nance Nash, June 16, 2014

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Mason & Helmers
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