In a recent post, this blog discussed the inventory, an important document that is filed at the outset of the administration of an estate. The inventory of an estate gives the family and other heirs their first clear indication of what assets are in an estate and what the relative value of those assets, such as real estate, stocks, and bank accounts are.
As most residents of Saint Paul, Minnesota, who pay any attention to sporting news know, the heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali, thought to be the greatest fighter ever by many, passed away recently. While the champion will of course not enter the boxing ring again, his absence won't necessarily prevent his relatives from fighting a court battle over the man's estate.
While not all Minnesota probate litigation can be prevented, there are some things that an executor, often called a personal representative, can do to reduce the possibility of a lawsuit being filed in connection with an estate.
In Minnesota, a duly appointed personal representative has an obligation to file what is called an inventory of a deceased person's estate. The personal representative must file this inventory with the court, especially when the court is supervising the administration of the estate. When the estate unsupervised, the personal representative mails the inventory to the surviving spouse, the heirs and any one else with an interest in the estate, including a creditor, who asks for a copy.
As this blog has mentioned in recent posts, when a Minnesota resident dies without a will, it can cause a great deal of additional, and oftentimes unnecessary, conflict. In these instances, families in Saint Paul are more likely to find themselves fighting over even little details like pet care and funeral arrangements, not to mention the amount of person's inheritances.
For many families, the death of a loved one brings not only grief, but also contention and acrimony. Here are three factors that can cause contentious disputes between family members and other parties with interest in an estate:
This blog has previously discussed the case of Sumner Redstone, a billionaire who owns a large share in Viacom, a major media outlet that might be familiar to residents of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Originally, Mr. Redstone's long-term companion had alleged that he was incompetent to remove her as his health care representative and expel her from his home. The companion recently lost that suit. Now, executives from Viacom are effectively suing the man who ultimately owns their company. Specifically, the executives are alleging that Mr. Redstone did not have the competence to remove two high-ranking officers at Viacom from his trust, a trust that will ultimately have the power to control Viacom's business affairs.