Various probate and trust matters

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard Sen. Steele’s SB 355 on various probate and trust matters. This bill provides that a trust may incorporate by reference a document that exists at the time the trust is executed. It also specifies that funeral expenses and expenses of a tombstone are expenses of administration. The bill expands the definition of “person” under the probate code to include governmental entities and other legal entities.

The legislation also provides that a nonprobate transfer to a testamentary trust is valid upon the will being admitted to probate, and is not subject to claims against the probate estate. It also allows a governmental entity or business entity (in addition to an individual) to be a transfer on death beneficiary of an automobile or a watercraft. It allows a governmental entity or business entity (in addition to an individual) to be appointed a health care representative. The bill amends the order of priority of persons who may control the disposition of a decedent’s body. It provides that a power of attorney may delegate the authority of a parent or guardian with respect to the health care of a minor or protected person.

The bill was amended clarify who is able to make funeral arrangements. A representative from the Indiana Funeral Directors Association testified in favor of the amendment, which removes uncertainty about who is authorized to take care of funeral arrangements.  A representative from the Probate, Trust, & Property Section of the Indiana State Bar Association testified in favor of the bill.

The amended bill passed 8-0.

Read the bill at http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2015/bills/senate/355.