Last week's post discussed how a family is trying to have the business decisions of an NFL owner in another state declared invalid because the owner was not "competent" to make them. Albeit a slightly differently set of facts, this story could make some residents of Saint Paul, Minnesota, and particularly those who read this blog, ask themselves what exactly makes a person "competent" to prepare a valid will that disposes of the person's property upon death.
Last week's post discussed a recent case in which the outcome of a significant probate dispute will depend on who owns one share of stock in a multimillion dollar company. The post raises important questions as to how stock shares and other similar property gets distributed upon a person's death, and how this process could play in to probate litigation.
Under Minnesota law, a person is not required to have a will. However, a will can be a useful item that maps out how a deceased person's estate will be divided up, and can help insure each person receives the correct inheritance. Whether a person is in their 20s or 80s, it's never too early or too late to create a will. After a will is made, there can be many reasons a person might choose to update it.
Last week's post about the Anna Nicole Smith case described what may well be the worst case scenario for a family or organization embroiled in a dispute over a will or over the property from an estate. In the case of Anna Nicole Smith, her relatives and executors have been left with a high legal bill but with nothing to show for it. For those who cared about her situation, it may seem that her litigation against her husband's estate was for naught.
Many Minnesotans may remember the ongoing saga of the estate of Anna Nicole Smith, a former model and TV personality who died of an overdose some years ago, and the family of her late husband, an oil tycoon. According to some recent reports, the protracted legal battle may have finally come to an end.
Many residents of Minnesota, especially those who read this blog, are probably familiar enough with estate planning to know that typically a person uses a will to pass on property to those whom he or she chooses. However, there are other mechanisms of estate planning available. Joint property, payable on death accounts, IRA's, insurance policies and trusts are all means by which a Minnesota resident can pass his or her bounty on to others.
The famous singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte, a friend of the late Martin Luther King Jr. and his family, has sued the estate of the Reverend King after the estate supposedly prevented Belafonte from selling off some historic artifacts that once belonged to King.
Many Minnesota families have heirlooms of some kind. Perhaps it's a keepsake with great sentimental value, or perhaps it's a treasured piece of furniture that could fetch a lot of money at auction. These heirlooms can be great sources of pride, but they can also be sources of conflict when heirs and beneficiaries don't agree on what to do with the object, or who gets to keep it.
The death of a loved one often causes a mix of emotions and stress. In addition, family members will have to deal with their belongings and assets. Residents in Minnesota understand that his can often stir up disagreements between beneficiaries, especially when in comes in inheriting a large amount of property or assets.
Minnesota residents have no doubt heard of the debates over federal estate taxes, which pop up every few years in Congress. However these taxes, derided as "the death tax" by opponents, affect relatively few families. Currently, estates can transfer up to $5,250,000 before the federal estate tax kicks in.