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Annual Report

MSBA Probate & Trust Law Section
Annual Report

Section Membership
As of June 7, 2019, the Section has 1,084 members. 

Financial Status
The Section had an account balance of $80,936.94 as of April 30, 2019.

CLEs & Events
The Section hosted four CLE programs and one social event in fiscal year 2018-19. 

Program Title


Event Code

CLE Credits

Number of Attendees

Probate and Trust Law Section – Law School and Attorney Meet and Greet Happy Hour





Ethics and Technology - Practical Tips for Your Estate Planning and Probate Practice



1.0 Ethics


The Judges Will See You and Hear You Now - A Conversation with Outgoing and Incoming Probate Judges



1.0 Standard


Foreign Inheritance: the Pandora's Box of U.S. International Tax Reporting Requirements



1.5 Standard


Probate for Real Estate Attorneys and Real Estate for Probate Attorneys (Co-sponsored with the Real Property Section)



1.0 Standard


Annual Meeting and Election Results
The Section’s Annual Meeting was held on June 11, 2019 in conjunction with the annual Minnesota CLE Section Conference at the Saint Paul RiverCentre. 

The following council members were elected to serve on the Section’s Governing Council from 7/1/2019 to 6/30/2020:

Lauren Barron
Richard Baum
Jolene Cutshall
Brandon Edmundson
Jennifer Lammers
Sonny Miller, ex officio (immediate past chair)
J. Steve Nys
Michael Ostrem
Tamara Peterson
Michael Sampson
Jennifer Santini
Jason Schuller
Cameron Seybolt
Joel Sommers

 The following officers were elected to serve on the Section’s Governing Council from 7/1/2019 to 6/30/2020:

Chair: Jolene Cutshall
Vice-Chair: Jennifer Lammers
Secretary:  Michael Sampson
Treasurer:  Cameron Seybolt

Diversity and Inclusion 
During 2018-2019, our Section continued its work to connect Section Members with affinity groups to continue to foster dialogue, and we reviewed our Diversity and Inclusion Plan.  Our efforts were led by Joshua Hillger with support from Ivory Umanah.

 In addition, we made a more concerted effort to reach out to diverse and new lawyers at the law school level.  Specifically, Kiley Henry attended the Meet the Bar Event on November 2, 2018 held at the University of Minnesota Law School on behalf of our Section (and several law students subsequently attended and observed a meeting of Section Council from those efforts).  We also held a social gathering for current law school students and Section Members on May 16, 2019.

Other Section Accomplishments
In addition to our CLEs (led by Adam Rohne and Joel Sommers) and our Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives (led by Joshua Hillger) discussed above, our Section had a very busy 2018-2019 year.

Our Legislation Committee led by Lauren Barron and Cameron Seybolt was able to shepherd through to approval (1) our Qualified Farm and Small Business Estate Tax Calculation amendment to Minnesota Statues Section 291.03 (which now permits spouses to be treated as a single economic unit for purposes of the three-year holding requirement for the small business and family farm exemptions from the Minnesota estate tax) and (2) our Agricultural Homestead imitative to amend Minnesota Statutes Section 273.124 (Subd. 21) (which now permits individuals to include property titled in either their individual names or in trust for estate planning purposes to be linked for purposes of the agricultural homestead classification).

 Our Public Service Committee led by Susan Link continued to provide support to the Wills For Heroes project.  During our 2018-2019 year, 43 Clinics were staffed, 1,329 first responders and their spouses were served (almost 15,000 have been served since the inception of the program in 2007), and 8 training sessions were held (in which 66 attorneys or law students were trained into the program).  The Section also approved a $1,000 donation to the Wills for Heroes organization.

Our Technology Committee led by Richard Baum conducted a CLE on practical issues with incorporating technology into the probate practice.  We also spent time reviewing the new MSBA HotDocs based drafting program for simple wills that went live in the fall of 2018, and more recently Section Members participated with Minnesota CLE in the creation of a new HotDocs based drafting program incorporating their drafting form set expected to be available in the fall of 2019.  Lawyers in our Section will continue to have more tools available to them through technology to assist in delivering our services.

Our Litigation Committee led by Alan Silver and Kirsten Helmers continued to provide support to the Section in connection with recent litigation matters that impact our Section.  In addition, Kirstin Helmers is working on a project with the Mediation Center of Minnesota to allow Section Members to select Probate and Trust as a mediation specialty when completing the ADR Training for Court Rule 114 mediations.   

Our Newsletter Committee led by Emma Maddy and Kiley Henry published four newsletters this past year on a variety of insightful and helpful topics.

Our Greater Minnesota Involvement Committee led by Brandon Edmundson reported to Section Council about the monthly Study Group which a number of lawyers located in Greater Minnesota participate in on a monthly basis.

Our Federal Taxation Committee led by Eileen Day reported to Section Council on recent federal tax updates that impact our Section.

Our Governance Committee led by Jolene Cutshall continued to review our policies for considering Amicus requests as well as began the process of reviewing our Bylaws and organizational documents for potential changes in the coming year.

Michael Ostrem also represented our Section in a Special Project to review attorney succession issues as well as best practices for solo and small firms for transfer of files and original estate planning documents with the MSBA Succession Planning Committee.

It has been my privilege to serve as Section Chair this part year.  I look forward to watching our Section continue to expand its inclusion of diverse viewpoints, to attract new lawyers to the profession, and to participate and impact important and relevant initiatives in the Probate and Trust practice.

Submitted By:
Sonny Miller, Section Chair
Dated: June 30, 2019

Amicus Briefs

Lund v. Lund