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Indiana Dep't of State Revenue, Inheritance Tax Div. v. McCombs

Tax Court of Indiana

August 12, 2015

INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF STATE REVENUE, INHERITANCE TAX DIVISION, Appellant,
v.
STEVEN B. McCOMBS, EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF JANICE HAMBLIN, Appellee

ON APPEAL FROM THE FOUNTAIN CIRCUIT COURT. The Honorable Susan Orr Henderson, Judge. Case No. 23C01-0901-ES-0007.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDIANA; EVAN W. BARTEL, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL, Indianapolis, IN.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: JILL D. WESCH, WALLACE LAW FIRM, Covington, IN.

OPINION

FISHER, Senior Judge.

The Indiana Department of State Revenue, Inheritance Tax Division (Department) appeals the Fountain Circuit Court's (Probate Court) order determining that the Estate of Janice Hamblin (Estate) was entitled to a refund of inheritance tax paid. The sole issue before the Court is whether the Probate Court erred when it held that through her Will, Janice Hamblin transferred interests in life estates, as opposed to annuities, to her beneficiaries Larry Hamblin and Misty Snuffer. The Court finds that the Probate Court did not err.

Page 179

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Janice Hamblin died testate on December 14, 2008. Her Last Will and Testament, dated May 15, 2008, provides in relevant part as follows:

ITEM IV: A. TRUST FOR LARRY HAMBLIN AND MISTY SNUFFER
I give and bequeath all of the rest, residue and remainder of my personal property, wherever situate, to Kentland Bank, Kentland, Indiana, as trustee, with discretionary powers of management, investment and reinvestment in trust for the use and benefit of my husband, Larry Hamblin, for and during his natural life, as hereinafter provided: Said trustee shall have all the powers provided for a trustee under the Indiana Trust Code and shall distribute the sum of $1,250.00 per week from said trust to or for the benefit of said beneficiary for his use. Said Trustee shall further have the discretion to make distributions of the principal of said trust to or for the benefit of said beneficiary for his quarterly federal and Indiana estimated tax payments, replacement of his personal vehicle or such other purposes as it deems appropriate in its sole discretion. Said trustee shall not be required to docket said trust or make accountings therefor to any court, but shall furnish said beneficiary an annual accounting of the income and expenses of said trust. Said beneficiary shall not have the right to assign or pledge his beneficial interest in said trust to any person, firm or corporation.
Upon the death of said Larry Hamblin, said trustee shall continue to hold the assets remaining in said trust with discretionary powers of management, investment and reinvestment, in trust, for the use and benefit of my only child, Misty Snuffer, for and during her natural life, as hereinafter provided: Said Trustee shall have all the powers provided for a trustee under the Indiana Trust Code and shall distribute the sum of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) per week from said trust to or for the benefit of said beneficiary at least monthly for her use. Said Trustee shall further have the discretion to make distributions of the principal of said trust to or for the benefit of said beneficiary for payment of her quarterly federal and Indiana income tax estimates, replacement of her personal vehicle or such other purposes as it deems appropriate in its sole discretion. Said trustee shall not be required to docket said trust or make accountings therefor to any court, but shall furnish said beneficiary an annual accounting of the income and expenses of said trust. Said beneficiary shall not have the right to assign or pledge her beneficial interest in said trust to any person, firm or corporation. Upon the death of said beneficiary, the trustee shall wind up the business of said trust and distribute the balance of said trust to Kentland Bank, Kentland, Indiana, as Trustee of the Trust for Grandchildren provided in paragraph B below.

(Appellant's App. (" App." ) at 29-30.)

Janice's Will was admitted to probate on January 27, 2009. The Estate filed its Indiana Inheritance Tax Return on September 14, 2009. For purposes of calculating the amount of tax owed, the Estate valued the interests ...


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