As has been discussed in at least one recent post on this blog, many times trust disputes revolve around whether or not a person has the necessary mental capacity to make or continue to administer a trust. Generally speaking, the law of Minnesota will not acknowledge a trust when the person creating it did not have the mental capacity to do so.
This blog has previously discussed the case of Sumner Redstone, a billionaire who owns a large share in Viacom, a major media outlet that might be familiar to residents of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Originally, Mr. Redstone's long-term companion had alleged that he was incompetent to remove her as his health care representative and expel her from his home. The companion recently lost that suit. Now, executives from Viacom are effectively suing the man who ultimately owns their company. Specifically, the executives are alleging that Mr. Redstone did not have the competence to remove two high-ranking officers at Viacom from his trust, a trust that will ultimately have the power to control Viacom's business affairs.
Although our law office has the willingness and the experience to see a hotly contested trust dispute all the way through a trial, many Saint Paul, Minnesota, residents who have the misfortune of having to deal with a messy trust fight, quite possibly with family members, may prefer for a lot of reasons to avoid a public court battle and instead, resolve what is often a deeply personal and emotional legal conflict quietly.
One of the benefits that trusts offer when compared to other estate planning documents is the possibility of entering what Minnesota law calls a "nonjudicial settlement agreement." When two or more parties have a trust dispute or even just want to memorialize their agreement about certain aspects of trust administration for a particular trust, they can use this type of agreement in lieu of having to go through a court in order to get a settlement.
As this blog has reminded its Minnesota readers many times, trust litigation does not necessarily have to be between family members. Oftentimes, residents of Saint Paul may want to set up a charitable trust that will benefit a person's favorite house of worship, cultural site or nonprofit organization. As with other trusts, sometimes things can go awry and end up in litigation or a sticky legal situation.
In last week's post, we discussed how it is possible for Minnesota trust disputes to arise over an inheritance when property gets inadvertently left out of a trust at the time of a person's death. This is not as difficult to do as one might seem, as an improper or non-existent pour over will could mean that property a person chose to keep outside of a trust does now wind up in the possession of the trust.
Many Minnesotans may have heard of living trusts, and a few Saint Paul residents may even have one or plan to use one as a tool for passing their property on to their loved ones after they die. Although whether this estate planning tool is the right one for a given situation is not a question for this blog, this blog has often discussed ways in which a Minnesotan can avoid trust disputes down the road by attending to their estate plans properly.
As many of our Saint Paul readers know, this blog has followed the ongoing trust litigation between the owner of a professional football team and successful businessman, Tom Benson, and his estranged daughter. Now, it appears that the family will try to air out and resolve their differences through the mediation process.
The latest in a series of battles in an ongoing war between a businessman who owns an NFL football team and his family continues as an appeals court recently agreed with a lower court's decision that the businessman should no longer be allowed to serve as trustee for a trust that was set up for the businessman's daughter. Fans of the Minnesota Vikings and those who follow this blog may be familiar with the background of this case.
A recent post on this blog discussed the responsibilities that a resident of Saint Paul, Minnesota, would have were he or she to agree to be a trustee of a Minnesota trust. As a person reading this post could conclude, trust administration involves many detailed tasks that can take a lot of time and effort.