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Dispute over food magnate's estate to be settled in Florida?

He was known in his life as a man who fought for his interests, his businesses and the causes he believed in. Many say it's not totally unexpected that even after his life, disagreements continue to revolve around him.

The estate of food magnate Jeno Paulucci is at the center of probate litigation that reaches from Florida to Minnesota, with his adult children battling those in charge of their substantial trusts.

His two children argue that the creator of the canned Chinese food products, Chun King, and Jeno's Pizza Rolls, among other food products, was manipulated into switching attorneys and control of his estate shortly before his death late last November.

Paulucci, 93, died just four days after the death of his 89-year-old wife. They had been married 64 years.

There is first a dispute over venue to settle: the children say control of the trusts should be decided on in Paulucci's home state of Minnesota and the trustees contend it should be in Florida, the location of most of the trust assets.

An attorney for a daughter of the late food magnate said "this is a fairly rare case in that it's not beneficiaries fighting amongst themselves."

Instead, the beneficiaries want to replace the trustees appointed late in Paulucci's life with the original trustees. The elderly couple died just six weeks after making the change.

Paulucci founded the Chun King products in the 1940s, selling it in 1966 for $63 million. He later created Jeno's Pizza Rolls, a company he sold to Pillsbury for $135 million.

The case is complicated -- there are a number of beneficiaries who are minors -- with much at stake on which state decides on the matter. In Minnesota, only the consent adult beneficiaries is needed to remove trustees; in Florida, the consent of all beneficiaries, including minors, is required.

Probate law is complex, which is why it's so important to discuss estate administration matters with an experienced attorney.

Source: Star Tribune, "Jeno Paulucci money in nasty court dispute," Oct. 20, 2012

  • Our Lee County firm handles similar matters. Please visit our Fort Myers probate page for more information.

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