The death of a loved one brings a number of legal and financial challenges, some that are expected and others that can take you by surprise.
As Twin Cities readers may know, the executor of a probate estate typically has broad latitude to manage estate assets in furtherance of the testator's wishes. Sometimes, however, those in charge of estate administration forget that an executor owes a fiduciary duty to all the beneficiaries of the estate. As one recent court ruling illustrates, the failure to live up to fiduciary responsibilities need not be motivated by greed or personal gain to amount to unlawful self-dealing and bad faith.
Trusts can be an important means of passing wealth on to succeeding generations. Minnesota residents may be interested to know that one of the heirs to the largest private company in the world, Minneapolis-based Cargill, has died. He was worth an estimated $2.6 billion and was known as a great supporter of education and culture in his community. The man and his brother were beneficiaries of family wealth that was passed down to four generations of Cargill and MacMillans, nine of whom still own about 88 percent of the company.
Science-fiction fans in Minnesota are probably well-acquainted with the author Philip K. Dick. The author, who died in 1982, wrote many popular science-fiction novels in his lifetime, and many of those novels have since been made into movies. However, the trustee of his estate has now filed a lawsuit against the makers of the blockbuster movie "The Adjustment Bureau," which is based on Dick's short story "Adjustment Team."