Probate matters

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 518 on probate matters, sponsored by Rep. Steuerwald.  The bill does the following:

  • Allows a person to contest two or more wills if there is prima facie evidence that: (1) the decedent suffered from an irreversible medical or psychiatric condition that predated theearliest will to be challenged; or (2) a party beneficially interested in one or more of the challenged wills had a direct and active nexus with the preparation or execution process for each will to be challenged.
  • Requires that the court review all attorney’s fee claims at the conclusion of the will contest, and the award and allocation of attorney’s fees paid from the estate be solely at the discretion of the court.
  • Specifies that the issuance of a court order on any matter related to an unsupervised estate does not revoke the personal representative’s authority to continue the administration of the estate as an unsupervised estate.
  • Authorizes the Indiana supreme court and office of judicial administration to establish and administer a statewide electronic estate planning documents registry (registry).
  • Allows certain individuals to deposit the following items into the registry: (1) An electronic will. (2) An electronic trust instrument. (3) An electronic power of attorney. (4) Any electronic document that revokes or amends an electronic will, electronic trust instrument, or electronic power of attorney.
  • Requires the administrator of the registry to catalog submitted items according to the following: (1) The name of the testator, settlor, or principal. (2) The county of residence for the testator, settlor, or principal. (3) The date of execution for an electronic estate planning document. (4) The date of submission to or deposit with the registry of information pertaining to an electronic estate planning document. (5) The name of any attorney responsible for the preparation or execution of an electronic estate planning document.
  • Requires the registry administrator to make the registry index: (1) available to; and (2) searchable by; the public.
  • Requires the registry administrator to keep the substantive content of electronic documents submitted to or deposited with the registry private, secure, and inaccessible to the public.
  • Requires the registry administrator to issue a certified report concerning the existence of certain items submitted to or deposited with the registry in certain instances.
  • Requires the registry administrator to issue a certified transcript of certain documents submitted to or deposited with the registry in certain instances.
  • Allows the registry administrator to charge fees in certain instances.
  • Revises definitions for the following terms: (1) “Document integrity evidence”. (2) “Tamper evident”.
  • Defines the term “specified adult” as a person who: (1) is not less than 65 years of age; or (2) is a person that: (A) is at least 18 years of age; and (B) has a mental or physical impairment that prohibits the person from protecting the person’s interests.
  • Allows certain individuals to act on behalf of a specified adult in certain instances involving the financial exploitation of the specified adult.
  • Provides that if a transfer on death deed has been recorded before the death of the owner, a subsequent conveyance is void if it is not recorded before the death of the owner with the recorder of deeds in the county where the real property is situated.
  • Establishes dates that determine when certain probate statutes apply.
  • Requires a court to issue certain findings before exempting encumbered real property from certain restrictions concerning the sale of the real property.
  • Allows the devolution of real estate title to be demonstrated by prima facie evidence.
  • Specifies how devolution of real estate title may be demonstrated.
  • Requires the estate recovery unit of the office of Medicaid policy and planning to provide notice of a claim against an estate in certain instances.

The bill was amended by consent to do the following:  recognize the small estate threshold of $25,000 for the estate of an individual who dies before July 1, 2007; add a definition of “petition for administration” and “unit address”; provide a process for filing a notice of administration; remove certain reporting requirements regarding small estate administration to the estate recovery unit of the office of Medicaid policy and planning; and make technical corrections.  The Indiana State Bar Association and the Office of the Attorney General testified in support of the bill and amendments.  The amended bill passed 9-0 and was recommitted to House Ways and Means.

For amend and vote only, it was also heard this week in House Ways and Means. The bill passed 16-0.

Read the bill at http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2019/bills/senate/518