The Minnesota probate process can be daunting and time-consuming without the guidance of a knowledgeable legal professional. At Kennedy & Ruhsam Law Offices, P.A., we help to articulate your goals, clearly explain the applicable legal steps, and exercise diligence in protecting your rights. Our goal is to put your mind at ease and navigate the process more efficiently.
Our Minnesota probate experience extends across both taxable and non-taxable estates and includes dealing with business succession, major asset sales, strained relationships among heirs, and other complex issues. We regularly prepare and review estate tax returns (Form 706), estate income tax returns (Form 1041), fiduciary accounting, and estate audits. Whether you are an estate executor overwhelmed by your responsibilities or an heir who needs help resolving a will contest, our firm can provide the sophisticated and cost-conscious representation you need.
Our Eagan probate lawyers can:
- Act as an executor or administrator of a family member’s estate
- Assist an existing executor with all elements of estate administration
- Represent a probate estate
- Represent a fiduciary, such as a trustee or personal representative
- Represent an heir who needs to ensure a fair distribution of assets
- Represent anyone with a valid reason to contest or defend the validity of a will or other estate documents
- Litigate breaches of fiduciary duty
If you have responsibilities or interests related to an estate that must go through probate, we encourage you to call (651) 369-7749 or contact us online for a productive consultation on your needs and options.
When questions arise about the validity or enforceability of a deceased loved one’s estate plan, legal and personal conflicts can prevent closure as well as the distribution of assets. We can help you prove or disprove the validity of an estate plan and ensure that estate property ends up in the right hands.
As an interested party, you cannot simply state that you believe something is amiss with an estate to contest a will or trust. You must provide evidence that demonstrates why an estate plan must be considered invalid on one of several recognized grounds.
Valid grounds for contesting a will or trust include:
- Lack of capacity. This means that the deceased was not of sound mind when they signed the documents for a will or trust. For example, a person with dementia or another condition that substantially impacts mental faculties almost certainly does not have the capacity to create or modify a will or trust, and any estate document generated after the onset of their illness is likely to be unenforceable.
- Undue influence. This could occur if someone close to the deceased uses mental and/or emotional manipulation to gain special considerations in a will or trust. For example, this person could convince the estate holder to grant them more assets than the rest of the beneficiaries.
- Fraud. This alleges that the estate holder was deceived about the contents of their estate plan at the time they signed it. For example, a beneficiary looking to gain more estate assets than what is in the current document could alter the directive without informing the estate holder.
- Void due to vagueness. This means that the terms of the estate documents are too general and open to more than one interpretation. When this occurs, a beneficiary or challenger could prevent part or all of the estate plan from implementation.
Many disputes stem from suspicions that a particular beneficiary took advantage of the declining health of the deceased estate holder. The court takes estate disputes seriously and will review all provided evidence and testimony before making a decision. Our skilled Eagan probate lawyers know how these conflicts are adjudicated and are ready to effectively represent your position.
Breaches of Fiduciary Duty
Executors, estate administrators, and trustees are all fiduciaries with legal obligations. Fiduciaries must properly manage the assets of the estates or trusts they oversee in accordance with the applicable estate planning documentation’s instructions and guidance. Fiduciaries must also perform at a standard of professionalism to ensure that no estate assets are lost due to fraud, waste, misallocation, or mismanagement.
Beneficiaries can challenge negligent or deliberate fiduciary misconduct and demand a full accounting of the estate by an outside third party. Our Eagan probate lawyers are well-versed in the dealings of this issue on either side. Our team at Kennedy & Ruhsam Law Offices, P.A. maintains close associations with top forensic accountants who can render accurate assessments of asset management and provide evidence that proves or rebuts these types of allegations.
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