Estate Planning Story about the Gregory Brothers vs. their Sister

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

The Gregory brothers have an interesting story about family dynamics. As told through Minnesota’s Court of Appeals, the Gregor brothers had a sibling “clash” with their sister over a 4th generation farm.

Estate Planning Story for Brothers and Sisters

As the story went, Grandma’s will distributed a 95-acre farm equally between her adult children.

Unfortunately, the sons disagreed with the sale of the farm and aired their animosity publicly.

This sibling clash was described in a recent case called A21-1231. Here, we learn about animosity, family problems, and a few key laws.

Sibling Animosity: Lesson 1

The first lesson was about animosity. Animosity is rarely a reason for a Court to remove a personal representative. However, an emotionally unstable executor might be enough.

Certainly, lots of siblings disagree with one another. Even so, would you consider your own sibling as emotionally unstable?

For those wondering, that was a rhetorical question only . Nonetheless, the above case reminds us that sibling relationships are not always easy.

Protecting an Estate: Lesson 2

The second lesson we get is the idea that protecting an estate by seeking a court approval is an aplaudid practice, especially within a probate proceeding.

On the other hand, had Grandma considered a trust, perhaps the clash between the Gregory brothers and their sister could have been avoided.

Court Petitions: Lesson 3

Third, we are reminded that just about anybody can petition a court and ask for the removal of the executor. When this happens, Minnesota law 524.3-611(a) tells us that the court must fix a time and place for a hearing.

Conflict of Interest: Lesson 4

The fourth lesson we can learn from the Gregory brothers is the idea that problems sometimes arise when a member of a family wears too many hats, otherwise known as a conflict of interest. For example, naming an adult child as a personal representative, while knowing they are also might inherit property as a beneficiary might be construed as a conflict of interest.

This case centers on a clash between siblings”

Scott County District Court, File No. 70-PR-20-9342

Of course, a lot of times, adult children are the best candidates to serve as our personal representative. despite the risk. Really, it depends on the dynamic of the heirs and communication.

When there is a doubt, we turn to laws and rules. In Minnesota, the rule is actions inconsistent with carrying out the terms of the wills or delayed, mismanaged, wasted, or misappropriated estate assets causes a conflict of interest. See Munson, 57 N.W.2d at 29; Matteson, 245 N.W at 382.

Thus, whether a conflict of interest arises during the course of administering a will or trust depends on the circumstances.

Therefore, learn from sibling clash outlined above and consider engaging an estate attorney.

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Estate Attorney Jasper Berg