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Probate and Trust Section E- Newsletter

January 2014



Hello from the Chair Scott M. Nelson

I hope everyone had a great holiday season, and a successful year-end.  2014 should prove to be as dynamic and challenging for our practice as in prior years.

You will see an article in this edition regarding pro bono opportunities through Steve Marchese is the current pro bono development director for the MSBA, and has provided an outline of how to participate in this case-placement tool.  We have a particular interest in encouraging probate and trust lawyers to consider registration with the site, since there will be rare occasions when probate matters, that will truly require pro bono assistance, will be posted.  The probate registrars will normally refer cases to the county lawyer referral services, but on rare occasions will encounter cases where the estate and the family is clearly insolvent but with exempt assets. A process has been set up for the screening of these cases prior to posting, and they will be reviewed by Volunteers of America-Estate and Elder Law Services Division.  Please consider signing up for this service so that we can hopefully have at least one attorney in each county monitoring the postings.

The MN legislature will convene on Tuesday, February 25th, with a short session scheduled to end on Monday, May 19th.  The Probate and Trust Section has two bills that were carried over from the last session, and the MSBA will continue to monitor funding for the judiciary as well as potential expansion of the sales tax.  The Section is continuing to work on the final draft of the Minnesota version of the Uniform Trust Code, although it may not be introduced in this short session. 

From the Business Law Section look for possible introduction of the Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act (“RULLC”), as well as new legislation introducing “benefit corporations” to our arsenal of Minnesota business entities.  The proposal creates a new organization form, the benefit corporation, which requires the corporation and its directors to consider the interests of constituencies other than shareholders.  The proposal will benefit Minnesota businesses that would like to have a social mission in addition to a profit-maximizing mission, and brings Minnesota in line with the growing number of states, currently around 20 (including Delaware), that have adopted benefit corporation statutes.  Our clients with social missions may find this form of organization helpful in pursuing their goals.

The Star Tribune recently reported on a case involving Dakota County and a Florida organization called Final Exit Network.  The Minnesota Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from Dakota County of the Court of Appeals decision that struck down as unconstitutional the Minnesota law that prohibits advising or encouraging suicide.  Final Exit Network has also appealed the Court of Appeals’ decision not to dismiss charges of aiding and abetting suicide.  These issues have continued to evolve nationally through state legislation and common law, and the issue will continue to change, particularly for those with chronic and incurable conditions.  Hopefully there will be guidance from the Minnesota Supreme Court for Minnesota practitioners later this year. 

Thanks again for your support of the Section and its initiatives, and best wishes for much success in 2014.



Wills for Heroes

As of January 3, 2014, Wills For Heroes has prepared 8,269 estate plans for Minnesota First Responders and their families.  The following clinics are still in need of volunteers:

  • Saturday, January 18, 2014 - Wabasha Police Department
  • Monday, March 17, 2014 - Forest Lake Police Department
  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - Forest Lake Fire Department
  • Monday, May 12, 2014 - Litchfield Fire Department
  • Saturday, May 17-2014 - Bird Island

As a reminder, the next attorney volunteer training program is on Wednesday, January 29, 2013.

For those interested in volunteering, to sign up for the training program or for more information on Wills For Heroes, please contact Andrea Bischoff ( or Susan Link ( or visit


Upcoming Events and CLE Programs

Understanding Trusts

  • Greater MN Probate & Trust Study Group Conference Call
    • Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 9 a.m. 
    • Call-in Number: (800) 406-9170 passcode: 1491722
    • Contact either Bradley Hanson (320-251-1414 ext. 1119) or JoEllen Doebbert (320-763-7838) with any questions or to join the group.
  • MSBA Probate & Trust Law Section Monthly Meeting
    • Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 3:30 p.m.
    • Location: MSBA Offices
    • Call-in Number: (800) 406-9170 passcode: 1491722

Federal & Minnesota State Tax Update

There are no updates to report this month.



By: Steve Marchese
Minnesota State Bar Association

Attorneys looking to volunteer for pro bono opportunities can find just what they need on  The website, a collaboration between the MSBA and the Legal Services State Support Center, was created as a “one stop” resources for pro bono lawyers.  ProjusticeMN is a free service to lawyers who are taking or plan to take pro bono cases.  In addition to substantive legal materials across a variety of common areas of poverty law, the website also provides a current listing of programs that work with pro bono lawyers.

A recent update to ProjusticeMN is the creation of a case placement tool.  Members can now search current volunteer opportunities from providers throughout the state by areas of the law.  The listings provide a brief summary of the matter, in addition to contact information for more details. Lawyers can indicate whether they are interested in the matter through the website and follow up with the volunteer contact provided in the listing.  In addition, members can set up search agents that will scan new listings based upon search criteria (such as area of law, for example.)  The search agent will send periodic updates to the member’s email as potential placements are listed with directions to the website for more information.

ProjusticeMN was designed to be your “virtual” pro bono coordinator – to enable you to easily and quickly take pro bono matters of interest.  We hope you will use the website as part of your effort to help us close the “justice gap” for the many low income Minnesotans who need your assistance.  If you have questions about or pro bono matters in general, please contact Steve Marchese, Pro Bono Development Director at the MSBA, at or 612-278-6308.



Case Law Update

In re Estate of Giebel
No. A13—0213, 2013 WL 6223508 (Minn. Ct. App. Dec. 2, 2013)
In an unpublished opinion, the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s removal of appellant as personal representative of his mother’s estate despite limited findings of fact.  The decedent’s will appointed her son to act as personal representative, but in the year following decedent’s death, the relationship between the appellant and his three sisters deteriorated amidst accusations of financial improprieties on both sides.

Appellant petitioned for formal appointment of the will and formal confirmation of his appointment as personal representative. Respondent, one of his sisters, objected to the appointment and requested Appellant’s immediate removal. The district court made limited findings, but removed Appellant as the personal representative, based on “an irreconcilable conflict between appellant and his siblings.” 

Appellant’s appeal followed, in the part, on the grounds that the district court abused its discretion by removing him as personal representative without making sufficient findings or following certain procedural requirements as set out in Minn. Stat. § 524.3-611(a). Appellant contended that Respondent did not make a “petition” as required by Minnesota probate statutes, but rather requested his removal by “motion” instead. The Court of Appeals upheld the removal on the grounds that Respondent’s motion satisfied the notice requirement, did not differ in substance from a petition, and that formal written findings were not required under Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01.
Matt Mahoney is an attorney at the Bassford Remele law firm in Minneapolis.  He practices in the areas of trusts and estates, premise liability, professional liability and commercial litigation.


Newsletter Committee Co-Chairs: David Joyslin and Jennifer Santini

To access the PROBATE & TRUST LAW SECTION WEBSITE |Click here.

If you are interested in submitting an article, please contact David Joyslin ( or Jennifer Santini ( with your idea.

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Newsletter Editors:

David Joyslin

Jen Santini

If you have any questions about the publication or would like to submit an article for a future issue, please contact either David or Jen.

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