FOOD MAGNATE’S ESTATE LOCKED IN CONFLICT

The estate of an Iron Range family’s patriarch is under dispute, with the man’s children fighting the men in charge of trust administration for his massive wealth. The man, who had been a food magnate in the town, reportedly had a penchant for conflict during his life that has not abated even after his death.

Two of the man’s children argue that their parents were coerced and manipulated by their financial advisers into firing two of their most trusted attorneys. Those Minneapolis professionals had helped the family manage their massive estate, which consisted of more than $100 million in trusts. Two Florida men stepped in to replace the trusted lawyers as the couple were on their deathbeds, according to the adult children.

The couple’s adult children are arguing that as the trusts’ beneficiaries, they have the right to fire the trustees, who they say were appointed as a scam. The beneficiaries argue that the two men were put into the positions after the wealthy couple had become mentally incompetent to make such massive decisions.

Attorneys for the administrators say that since most of the estate’s assets are in Florida, local workers should be hired to oversee the property, which includes jewelry, artwork, cars and home furnishings. That choice is more economical and logical than employing Minnesota-based attorneys, they say.

Although the adult children who brought the suit want the administrators removed, one of their siblings is a hold-out, arguing that the men should stay in their current positions. Representatives for the current trustees say they never had nefarious intentions, and they can produce memos to prove that the wealthy man intended to hire new administrators.

In any case, the suit is likely to remain stalled for some time as the decision of venue is finalized. The fight will probably stretch into the next year, especially if attorneys from either side intend to appeal the upcoming decision.

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Written by Luis E. Barreto

Luis E. Barreto

Luis is a probate and guardianship litigator with over 23 years of experience in the field. Determination of heirs, will contests, breaches of fiduciary duty, removal of personal representatives, guardians and trustees are just some of the types of litigation he addresses. In addition, he administers non-contested estates and guardianships.