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De-Escalating the Trials and Tribulations of Estate and Trust Litigation


The death of a loved one often leads to the expression of emotional strife and resentment among the family structure and surviving heirs. Even with a proper estate plan in place (a protected legacy plan created by the Testator) conflicts appear requiring legal assistance to travel down the litigation thoroughfare. Some examples of the conflicts that arise include contesting a Will, a breach of fiduciary duty by the court appointed Personal Representative, also known as Executor, of the Estate, and inheritance disputes, including but not limited to, self-dealing, excessive administrative expenses, misuse of estate and trust funds, negligence, failing to properly administer an estate or trust, and favoring one class of beneficiaries over another. There are many complicated outlays of Estate and Trust litigation to remember, including the financial and emotional impact and the administrative constraints. It is important to remember these outlays because the effects of litigation often leave parties feeling bruised, battered, cheated, overlooked, and unloved.

At Kennedy & Ruhsam Law, the legal team approaches each probate and trust litigated matter with expertise, honesty, and care. Our experienced lawyers seek to minimize the ongoing consequences of disputes and court battles for estates and trusts matters by focusing on the economic and financial implications, as well as the emotional and psychological attributes of each distinctive situation.

Estate/ Trust Battlefields

Each Estate or Trust administration is unique. The players involved are often family members who have emotional concerns about how the administration is being handled. Most often it relates to inheritance disputes or conflicts with the fiduciary agent serving as the Personal Representative of the Estate or Trustee of a Trust. It is important to remember that there are Minnesota laws that protect and guide estate and trust administrations, that outline the powers and duties of a fiduciary agent, and that govern a legal Will and/or Trust document. The key about Kennedy & Ruhsam Law firm is that our legal team has over 43 years of experience combined specializing in probate law and in helping to guide clients through the battlefields of Estate and Trust litigation effectively and efficiently. In addition, Attorney Scott A. Ruhsam often holds the fiduciary role of Special Administrator or Personal Representative of an Estate in contested and litigated matters. Our firm assists clients with receiving a fair and equitable distribution of an Estate and/or Trust when it appears the client is underrepresented or omitted from a Will or Trust, often because of undue influence on the Testator. We also assist with fiduciary removal or termination proceedings for estates, trusts, and guardianships and conservatorships. The goal for handling each matter is to do so the Kennedy & Ruhsam way…caring for the best interest of our clients and their legal needs.

De-Escalating through Mediation and Settlement

We represent and advocate for our clients’ interests in court as well as outside court through mediation and/or settlement negotiations. The strategy for de-escalating the estate and trust litigation experience is to focus on the reasonable nature of the facts and engaging in the big picture outlook of the cost-benefit analysis of litigation. Part of the strategy is knowing what you are willing to give up and what you simply will not compromise on. When negotiating with the opposing party(ies), you do not want to eliminate any valuable assets or be too forceful in obtaining a chip in the bargain, but you also never want to give too much away during the negotiation process. It is a balance act of finding the strengths and weaknesses of your case and the opposing party’s case. The helps the legal team to accurately evaluate the worth of the case, the chances of prevailing in court, and the leverage tools in our favor. In addition, it is important to remember that being a fervent advocate for our clients includes building a good affiliation with opposing counsel. This leads to obtaining honest and reasonable settlements for our clients.

The emotional costs of litigation are also reviewed and analyzed for each matter. Probate and trust disputes can leave families divided and inflict emotional harm lasting for generations. By de-escalating the emotional ties of litigation and negotiating to bring peace to the estate and trust litigated matters, the expertise, honesty, and caring nature of Kennedy & Ruhsam Law shines through.