When a loved one passes away, the property and assets left behind are distributed per the directions in the will or living trust. If the instructions were listed in the former or if no such document exists, the estate may be subject to probate court. This type of court oversees the appointment of administrators as well as the eventual distribution of the estate, and litigation can land you in court, too. Probate mediation offers an alternative that may be beneficial to you and your family.
A trust is just one of many estate planning tools that a Minnesota resident can choose. A recent post on this blog discussed how a trustee in Minnesota has a right to make reasonable investment decisions on behalf of the trust and its ultimate beneficiaries. While many if not most trustees do just that, some trustees are irresponsible or careless about how they invest or use trust funds.
Most Minnesota attorneys do their work honestly and competently. Unfortunately however, there are some who use their legal knowledge and skill to their own advantage and at their client's expense.
In Minnesota, administrators of family trusts, often called "trustees" have a lot of power. Sometimes, they are in control of millions, or even tens of millions, of dollars in assets. With this power comes a lot of responsibility. Minnesota trustees have an obligation not only to preserve the property that is in the trust but also to ensure that the trust grows. This is only a just expectation of those heirs and beneficiaries who will ultimately inherit the wealth contained in the trust.
Even as far north as Minnesota, people have heard of the professional football team called the "Saints" and may have heard of the professional basketball team called the "Pelicans." These teams have been owned for a long time owned by a Southern billionaire. Unfortunately, his family is now locked in trust litigation that may depend on who owns one share of stock.
As has been reported on this blog in the past, there are many people in Minnesota and elsewhere who may try to sell residents, particularly senior citizens, a revocable living trust, claiming that the device will "avoid probate" and implying that it is a sure-fire way to avoid probate litigation.
Many Minnesotans may have enjoyed the novels of author Tom Clancy. However, about a year after the multimillionaire author's death, his family is engaged in a probate dispute that is starting to develop its own dramatic plot line.
Our readers from the Twin Cities area who follow the Minnesota Timberwolves, or are just all-around fans of NBA basketball, have probably heard about the ongoing saga of Donald Sterling. Recently, the NBA prohibited Sterling from maintaining ownership of his team, the Los Angeles Clippers, and also fined him on account of certain racial slurs he made.
Minnesota residents generally want to ensure that their families are happy and taken care of. This holds true even after a person passes away. People don't want to leave their families with a burden or a massive legal headache. In order to avoid these issues, people can use different estate planning tools to make sure their families are taken care following their death. With proper estate planning people can also make sure their final wishes are respected after they pass.
When Minnesota residents set up a trust, they appoint a trustee to be in charge of the principal assets to provide for the beneficiaries. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to the trust, to ensure that it is financially solvent, so that it can provide for the beneficiaries where they need it.