Contesting a Will in MinnesotaWhen It Comes to Contesting a Will in Minnesota

The following is a brief introduction on what you may want to consider and what you may encounter in the case that you want to contest a Will in Minnesota.

For starters, let’s assume that everyone attempted to do the right thing.  These cases can be, after all, family members trying to interpret a deceased relative’s handwriting and seeking to do their best to carry out those instructions.  There are physical limitations of what can be done. 

Moreover, that’s not even discussing what might be involved when attempting to prove the legitimacy of a will or proving that an estate can be summarized so that it doesn’t need to go through the normal probate process.

MN Probate Court Judges

Oftentimes, a probate judge is the one who has final say in the matter overall. The executor may well have input in what’s done immediately, but they’re still ultimately held accountable to a probate judge. Remember that a probate court is probably going to be what decides who can be executor or administer over the estate in the first place.

That said, a Minnesota probate judge and court may be more involved in probate cases in which a will is not present or cases in which the will was contested. The will may serve as a supplement to a judge, more or less, and so the judge may need to pay more attention when the will is either invalid or nonexistent. Judges interpret the will, but understand that they’re supposed to do their best to see that its contents are carried out.

Keep in mind that any family member who wants to contest the will should be well aware a negative potential outcome. The result may, in fact, be in the concerned beneficiary’s favor overall. The problem, rather, may be that the judge needs to make different decisions than what the deceased originally intended in the now invalidated will. Invalidating a will may not bring the estate to ruin, but it will probably overturn part of the estate planning that was intended to guide the probate process. Assume that the judge has taken the place of whatever will might have been in the case that this estate planning document is silenced.

Alternatives to Litigation:  Mediation

Probate judges don’t always need to be fully involved with the probate process. They will probably have say in the matter to some degree, but when the estate is small enough, there’s the chance that they may allow the estate to be summarized, causing the judge to not have as much to worry about. States might have different laws for what kind of estates can be summarized, so make sure you investigate how that may impact the process for you. Not every estate can be summarized, and getting permission to summarize the estate is often a sign of goodwill.

The one thing that will probably impact this the most is the overall worth of the estate. Larger estates tend to mean that there needs to be more court involvement.   As the price of the estate increases, so does the likelihood that there will need to be more involvement by a judge.

Comparatively, a smaller estate may mean that you’ll interact with the court for a fraction of the time compared to what you might do during a normal MN probate case. That’s why having a will that’s well setup and maintaining a small estate may make the whole ordeal a lot simpler on your family. In cases like these, you may actually need to present concerns regarding the executor instead of the judge, since the executor may have been acting more on their own because of being allowed to summarize the estate.

Will Contest Law:  Impartiality

As in most legal cases, probate judges are not supposed to show any partiality. Probate courts shouldn’t even want the executor to be someone who intends to buy the deceased’s home. That alone might be something which cripples the intended executor from gaining court approval. Partiality, in fact, might be one of the few things that legitimizes your claim against the court’s decision. Proving that, nonetheless, might be a more difficult matter. In fact, you may even want to look and see if the judge was lied to and assume that they were acting out of blindness.

Your first concern in this matter should be getting all of the hard facts straight. Find out how much money, how many assets, how much real estate, how many vehicles, and how many items could have been involved in the case. If you find something that should have been included into the final inventory, that item might be your key. Hope that someone just forgot. Don’t assume that you have a case until you can prove that someone actually did something they weren’t supposed to do. It’s very possible that the property that you wanted to receive had to be sold, and that the judge fully knew of the negative ramifications and approved the sale regardless of the results. Dealing with debt in probate isn’t always pretty.

Emotions or Illegal Will

Should you actually find that you’re looking to challenge the judge’s decision, perhaps the central objective should be to understand all of the elements impacting the judge in question. This could be, in the simplest terms, because of the judge’s emotions playing into their judgment. Choices that don’t make sense in the case are what you need to investigate thoroughly. That’s why it’s so important that you, as mentioned previously, understand the hard facts concerning the deceased’s estate. You need to actually know what the judge had to work with instead of assuming that they wanted to do the wrong thing. Consider that the judge may have only had the known estate to work with and wasn’t planning on charging anyone else to cover the deceased’s outstanding bills.

You must also understand that the judge may have also considered parts of the will as being unreasonable according to the law. Proving otherwise may be difficult. That said, matters in which beneficiaries are unnamed and challenge the will aren’t unheard of. Those cases may prove to be more understandable as they may be based off the will not including enough information compared to the will including faulty information. The reality of the matter is that if a judge chose to have someone not carry out a given section of the will, it might be up to you to prove that it should and could have been carried out. Wills are almost always subject to the court’s interpretation, and just because a section of the document was unable to be carried out, it may not invalidate the entire document.

Minnesota Probate Lawyers

Cases that actually involved intentionally wrong decisions might not be something that you encounter everyday. Before you do anything in regards to making changes to the final decision, get some advice on the matter from a Minnesota probate lawyer.

They might be able to discern and actually tell you if there’s been any major issues before you do anything. As a positive suggestion, they might even be able to help resolve things so that each party is pleased with the outcome. Involving a one of these lawyers is completely normal and you shouldn’t feel concerned about bringing them in to assist with the overall case. People usually involve them even when things are going smoothly to ensure everything gets done properly.

Contact the probate law firm today for your free initial consultation.  Call today at:  612-424-0398.

 

Sources

Minnesota Will Contest clause, Minn. Stat. 524.2-517:   https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/524.2-517

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