Minnesota Estate Planning Law | The Slayer Statute

by Flanders Law Firm LLC on December 12, 2017

The Slayer Rule

When most people think of estate planning law, they dont usually imagine much excitement. Murder, disappearance, millions of dollars and intrigue. It sounds more like a made for television movie than a probate case. But thats exactly whats happening in a case currently pending in New Hampshire. One family is engaged in a bitter battle over a multi-million dollar fortune, with some relatives pointing the finger at another for murder. Though the case itself is interesting, it also sheds light on an important, but seldom discussed legal principle known as the slayer rule.

The issue in New Hampshire involves a probate case worth nearly $40 million from the estate of John Chakalos. Chakalos was killed back in December of 2013 after being shot three times while lying in his bed. At the time, police say they considered whether Nathan Carman, Chakalos grandson, might be a suspect in the murder, but no charges have been pursued. That said, police say the case is still open and they continue to pursue leads.

Fast forward several years and in September of 2016, Nathan and his mother went on what Nathan describes as a fishing expedition on his boat. Nathan says the boat started taking on water unbeknownst to him and once he realized the extent of the problem it was already too late to save the boat. Nathan claims that while he was searching for a life jacket and supplies, his mother disappeared into the ocean. Ultimately, the boat they were on sank and Nathan was rescued by a passing ship days later, floating on an emergency life raft.

Immediately after his mothers disappearance, Nathan took control of a bank account worth about $400,000, an account that used to belong jointly to him, his mother and grandfather. Now Nathan and other family members are embroiled in a probate dispute about who has the right to inherit from Chakalos’ estate. Specifically, Nathans aunts have gone before a local probate judge to argue that he should be barred from receiving any share of his grandfathers estate and, in addition, any share of his grandfathers estate that would have flowed to his mother. The aunts accuse Nathan of committing a heinous act and believe that he murdered his own grandfather in an attempt to collect millions in inheritance. They are now asking for the probate court to deny him the opportunity to profit from what they say was an illegal act.

Though the case in New Hampshire is far from over, it raises some interesting questions about whether a person can commit a crime, such as murder, and then profit from the crime by inheriting from the deceased. Though we might instinctively view this as wrong, the law needs more than instinct. Thankfully, this issue has been thought through and laws on the subject already exist. Most states in the U.S. have passed into law language known as slayer rules. This language prevents killers from inheriting money from their victims. Slayers are described as those who intentionally or feloniously cause the death of another person and are thus barred from benefiting from the victims will or a share of his or her estate.

Minnesota Estate Planning Law

In Minnesota, the issue is dealt with in Section 524.2-803 of Minnesota Statutes. The law says: “A surviving spouse, heir or devisee who feloniously and intentionally kills the decedent is not entitled to any benefits under the will or under this article, including an intestate share, an elective share, an omitted spouse’s or child’s share, homestead, exempt property, and a family allowance, and the estate of decedent passes as if the killer had predeceased the decedent. Property appointed by the will of the decedent to or for the benefit of the killer passes as if the killer had predeceased the decedent.” In Minnesota, it’s clear that the same rule applies. Those who had a hand in the untimely demise of a loved one cannot later profit from the person’s death.

Minnesota Estate Planning Lawyers

An experienced Minnesota estate-planning lawyer can help walk you through the probate process, answering questions along the way. For more information on estate planning in Minnesota, along with a variety of other topics, contact Joseph M. Flanders of Flanders Law Firm at (612) 424-0398.

Source: http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-news-nathan-carman-slayer-lawsuit-hearing-20171116-story.html

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Advantages of a Revocable Trust In Minnesota

by Flanders Law Firm LLC on November 29, 2017

Advantages of a Revocable Trust in MinnesotaAdvantages of a Revocable Trust

As we mentioned last week, talk of trust funds can lead to lots of confusion. Even those interested in learning more about estate planning can be overwhelmed when the topic of conversation turns to trusts. These tools are often viewed as confusingly complex and only for those with money to spare. This is characterization is, thankfully, untrue and to help demystify the world of trusts, I intend to spend some time exploring one popular variety in a bit more detail. Specifically, lets discuss revocable trusts.

What is a revocable trust?

As weve discussed previously, a revocable trust is a specific kind of trust fund that is created during someones life and can then be altered or revoked by that person at any time. The person who creates the revocable trust is known as the grantor and, unlike irremovable trusts, the grantor retains the power to control not only the trust, but also the property included within the trust. During the grantors lifetime, the money earned by the trust is distributed to the grantor and only after his or her death does the property transfer to other beneficiaries.

Advantages

One of the biggest advantages to creating a revocable trust is that it allows you to avoid the probate process. The revocable trust allows your loved ones to take control of your property without the need for court intervention. This can be especially useful when you own property in another state. In the event of your death, then your family members would need to conduct separate probate proceedings to take control of your property, a process that would waste valuable time and money. Similarly, a revocable trust allows your family members immediate access to your assets, including money, in the event that something happens to you. No need to go through probate, they will be able to gain immediate access to money in what will likely be a very difficult time.

Another plus of a revocable trust is that it can be used to avoid the need for guardianship or conservatorship. After creating a revocable trust, in the event something happens and you become incapacitated, the trust can be set up to pass into the control of someone else who will be able to direct what happens to the trust assets (meaning, your property) without needing to seek permission from a probate judge. This saves time and money, as incapacity can occasionally lead to long stretches of guardianship.

Revocable trusts are also useful in keeping private matters private. Rather than having your affairs labeled a public record by going through the probate process, trust documents are not filed with a court. No filing, no public record for others to see.

Take Stock of You Money

A final benefit of revocable trusts is that they are a great way to force people to take stock of their estate and start making decisions. All too often people fail to inventory the property theyve acquired over a lifetime and assume the distribution process will be simple. By thinking through these things now, which is required when establishing the revocable trust, you are forced to face the issue head on and begin giving serious thought to how you want your estate handled when youre no longer around. Revocable trusts are great ways to do this, rather than being written in stone, you have time to think and make amendments down the road, revising as your views shift as you age and circumstances change.

Minnesota Estate Planning Lawyers

An experienced Minnesota estate planning lawyer can help walk you through the probate process, answering questions along the way. For more information on estate planning in Minnesota, along with a variety of other topics, contact Joseph M. Flanders of Flanders Law Firm at(612) 424-0398.

Source: “Revocable Trusts,” published at AmericanBar.org.

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Should You Consider a Revocable Trust? | MN Estate Planning Law

November 27, 2017

Why Should You Consider A Revocable Trust? We’ve done a few posts on revocable trusts already. In the first, we explained more about what a revocable trust was and how it worked. In the second, we talked about some of the most important benefits of a revocable trust. Now that you have a bit more […]

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MN Wills & Trusts | Different Ways to Hold Title to Property

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Minnesota Probate Law | Subject Matter Jurisdiction

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MN Probate Law | When Death Isn’t Definite

October 6, 2017

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MN Estate Planning | Titling of Property in Minnesota

September 20, 2017

A recent article in the Washington Post involved a letter from a reader asking whether she and her husband needed to create a trust to ensure that, in the event of eithers death, the other would be guaranteed to take ownership of the family home seamlessly. The author of the article dove into the issue […]

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Time Limits for Probating a Will in Minnesota

September 5, 2017

Typically, when we discuss timing and probate, the issue concerns how fast (or slow) the probate court is likely to move. Though this is a common question, and a good one to understand, for some people moving quickly may not be what theyre most concerned about. In such cases, the question is not how fast […]

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