Many of Minnesota's elderly residents have been targeted by unscrupulous individuals who cheat them out of their money through identity theft and other scams. In some cases, it's not just a common thief but an investment banker or other supposed professional who drains away the person's estate through imprudent investments, self-dealing and breach of fiduciary duty.
Minnesota's farming community has shrunk rapidly over the past few decades, as big agricultural corporations increase their holdings and new generations decide to give up the family business. However, many Minnesota farmers are trying to keep the business in the family. This can be tough, however, without an estate plan, Minnesota law will distribute all farm assets equally amongst the heirs, which can create unexpected tax issues or even a family squabble.
When a person dies without a valid will, the state figures out how to distribute the person's estate based on what's called the law of intestate succession. Minnesota, like every other state, has a law that decides whom the heirs of the estate will be in these cases. Sometimes, these cases are fairly straightforward, as when the deceased person has left behind a spouse or children to inherit property. Sometimes, however, these cases are much harder to handle
Twin Cities readers may recall a previous post in this blog discussing whether Minnesota's Defense of Marriage Act forbids recognizing a same-sex spouse as the legal heir of a deceased partner. The issue arose after a Minneapolis man's spouse of 25 years died unexpectedly without a will. The couple had married in California, but Minnesota law seemed to dictate that the deceased man's assets should go to his parents rather than his husband.
Film buffs in Minneapolis and St. Paul may be most familiar with Reese Witherspoon for her many starring roles in movies. But the actress recently took on a legal role in real life as she petitioned to be appointed her father's conservator. The actress joined with her mother to seek conservatorship over her father, who is believed to suffer from dementia.
Twin Cities jazz and rap fans may be dismayed to learn of shady dealings in the estate of Gil Scott-Heron, who died in May 2011 at the age of 62. The man who penned "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" would undoubtedly cringe to know that his recent Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award comes in the shadow of an unseemly family dispute.
Minnesota beneficiaries may be able to learn lessons from the famous estate disputes of celebrities. Public lawsuits over celebrities' estates have brought light to such issues as self-dealing, proper execution of trusts and misuse of funds.