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Living trusts will not necessarily prevent probate litigation

Minnesota residents may have heard about living trusts. Sometimes, people attempt to convince residents, especially the elderly, that they need a living trust in order to "avoid probate" and the supposed expenses and costs associated therewith.

A living trust can be a very advantageous estate planning tool. Unfortunately, scam artists sometimes try to sell a living trust package to people who don't need it and won't benefit from it.

In Minnesota, an uncontested probate proceeding can take as little as a few months to complete and, all things considered, is relatively affordable. In many situations, probate could cost significantly less than a "living trust" package being sold by an unscrupulous investment advisor.

What costs money and time in a probate proceeding is generally not the administrative process itself; it is ensuing probate litigation when family members or other heirs seek to contest a will or a trust. If Minnesotans want to save time, expense and emotional strain in the probate process, they should take reasonable steps to preempt disputes that can lead to litigation. As discussed in previous blog posts, these steps include having an attorney draft a will or trust that clearly expresses one's wishes, and maintaining good communication with family members about those wishes.

Unfortunately, sometimes probate disputes are simply unavoidable despite a person's best efforts. In such cases, an experienced probate litigation attorney can make a huge difference in getting a dispute resolved quickly and efficiently. A probate litigation attorney may be able to analyze a case efficiently and come up with viable options short of a lengthy court battle.

Source:, "Trusts not worth paper written on or fees to prepare them," Sandra W. Reed, June 23, 2014

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