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.
Trust-fund beneficiaries have a bad reputation in some ways. Adults are sometimes ridiculed as trust-fund babies and college students from wealthy families are labeled trustafarians. Certainly, there are those who inherit wealth and don't seem to do anything with it except provide themselves with luxury. But there are some who inherit money through wills or trusts and give much of it away to deserving charities or even needy friends.
Twin Cities readers may be familiar with the Herbalife company as much for its controversial multilevel marketing operations as for its broad claims of benefits in weight management and personal nutrition. However, to at least one attorney previously involved in trust litigation that has now spanned the course of nearly eight years, the company name may serve only as a reminder of what he once coined "the World War III of probate litigation."
Twin Cities readers may recall a story from earlier this year involving the administration of a colonial-era trust and the surrounding controversy that divided a historical seaside town. The recent sale of the trust's assets may be the final act that permanently dissolves the nation's oldest functioning trust, but local opponents of the move say that they will not let the sale put an end to the ongoing trust dispute.
Readers in Minneapolis and St. Paul may have tuned in to our previous discussions about the risks of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults, but a recent case involving a gambling grandmother turns the tables on the usual roles of exploiter versus exploited. Criminal charges stemming from the grandmother's looting of her grandson's college trust fund still serve as a lesson in the importance of monitoring the financial practices of an elder family member, but also illustrate the importance of legal assistance in matters of trust administration.
Twin Cities outdoor enthusiasts will be familiar with the waterproof fabric Gore-Tex. The success of the popular material amassed a sizeable inheritance for the heirs of its inventor. That fortune led to a bizarre trust dispute that recently came to an end with a state Supreme Court decision.
Minnesotans may be interested to learn that the legacy of railroad tycoon and longtime St. Paul resident James "The Empire Builder" Hill was the subject of a recently settled trust dispute. The Empire Builder earned a place in history by founding the Great Northern Railway and constructing rail lines stretching from Duluth to the West Coast.
Twin Cities residents with an affinity for history may take interest in the controversy now surrounding a will executed more than 100 years before the American colonies declared independence. An affluent businessman named William Payne drafted his will just eight days before his death 351 years ago.
Minnesotans considering trust litigation may want to consider the case of a wealthy polo club owner. The entrepreneur established an irrevocable trust naming his two biological children as beneficiaries. He also appointed a wealth management firm to oversee the administration of the trust. Because the trust is irrevocable, the polo club owner has no authority to remove the wealth management company as trustee. Claiming to have lost confidence in the company's management, the entrepreneur elected to adopt his adult girlfriend in order to make her a beneficiary of the trust. Through this adoption, the entrepreneur gave his 42-year-old girlfriend the legal authority to challenge the administration of the trust and potentially replace the wealth management firm with a new trustee.
For some Minnesotans, the question of where to open an estate may be a bit complicated if the estate owners pass away with assets located in more than one state. For example, some residents in the Twin Cities area may split their time each year between two homes, one in Minnesota and one somewhere else. So where should the legal distribution of assets take place if it isn't clear exactly where the estate owners held permanent residency?