For those with high-value estates, proper planning isn't just about allocating the wealth among those you love. It's also about divvying up the tax burden.
Minnesota families sometimes set up trust funds to help their children or grandchildren with their financial needs after they're gone. These can be a great way to keep a sense of family legacy together through generations. However, the work involved doesn't end once all the documents are signed and dated. The trustee must perform its duty to the trust principal and the beneficiaries must not interfere with each others' rights to the fund. When something goes wrong, it can lead to lawsuits over misuse of funds.
Jack Kevorkian is best known for the legacy of assisted-suicide activism that earned him the moniker "Doctor Death." Twin Cities readers may be surprised to learn that the controversial doctor was also a painter. Ownership of several of the doctor's paintings formed the basis of a probate dispute that recently settled and brought an end to federal court litigation.
Some of our Twin Cities readers may unfortunately have experienced the type of disagreements that can arise among siblings over the distribution of parents' estate assets. Both testators and estate planning professionals often do their best to draft estate plans that provide clear direction and avoid conflicts, but even well considered plans sometimes leave room for probate disputes.
The mention of Carroll Shelby most likely stirs a bit of reverence in many Twin Cities residents who admire the legendary muscle cars bearing the iconic name of the engine designer and former race car driver. The automotive legend died last month after a life spanning 89 years in diverse pursuits that included several marriages. Unfortunately, a final resting place for the renowned race car driver may have to wait until the resolution of probate litigation involving a family dispute over authority to make burial arrangements.
Art lovers in Minneapolis and St. Paul may be familiar with the nearly ubiquitous works of Thomas Kinkade. His paintings have been widely reproduced and have found their way into the homes of fans nationwide through a franchise of licensed galleries.
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.
Bill Graham may be familiar to Twin Cities residents as the concert promoter that helped bring bands like Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and the Rolling Stones to prominence in the 1960s and early 1970s. In a case filed in probate court nine years after his death, the promoter's legacy now stands in the shadow of probate litigation over the value of his heirs' inheritance.
Saint Paul residents who expect to receive an inheritance may want to consider some distinctly modern issues that can lead to the dwindling of an estate. For example, Americans are living longer today than they did years ago. Today there are more Americans over the age of 65 than ever before, and it is expected that the over-65 population will grow from 13 to 20 percent of the nation's total population by 2050.
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.