The Estate of George A. Henry, Deceased, Appellant-Defendant,
Nadene Woods, Appellee-Plaintiff.
from the Marion Superior Court Trial Court Cause Nos.
49D08-1202-EU-4311, 49D08-1208-PL-31442 The Honorable Steven
R. Eichholtz, Judge.
Attorney for Appellant Christopher T. Smith, Smith Davis LLC
Attorneys for Appellee C. Dennis Wegner, C. Dennis Wegner
& Assoc., P.C., Indianapolis, Indiana, Jonathan E.
Palmer, Indianapolis, Indiana
Nadene Woods ("Woods") filed a claim for services
against the Estate of George Henry ("the Estate"),
which was disallowed and then contested in a bench trial. The
Marion County Superior Court, Probate Division, partially
allowed the claim, and the Estate appealed. We affirm.
Estate presents three issues for review, which we restate as
I. Whether the probate court erroneously evaluated the claim
under a standard applicable to general creditors as opposed
to a standard for family members incorporating a presumption
that services were gratuitous;
II. Whether a finding of fact is clearly erroneous; and
III. Whether the conclusion that Woods is entitled to partial
recovery upon her claim is clearly erroneous.
and Procedural History
In 1944, George Henry ("Henry") married Phyllis
Henry ("Phyllis"); she was subsequently diagnosed
with cystic fibrosis. By 1998, Phyllis needed in-home
assistance while Henry pursued his law practice. Henry hired
a housekeeper to clean one day per week and paid her $90.00.
He hired Woods to personally assist Phyllis. Four days per
week, Woods prepared lunch, emptied Phyllis' catheter,
changed bed linens, and did some errands. Henry paid Woods
$150.00 per week.
Phyllis died on February 4, 1998. Woods asked Henry if her
services were still needed and he replied in the negative.
However, after a week or two, Henry confessed to a friend
that he was running out of clothing and he didn't know
how to do laundry. Henry invited Woods over for a home-cooked
meal. He then asked Woods to do his laundry and she obliged.
As time went on, Woods took on other household duties. Also,
she and Henry began to go out socially. Customarily, Henry
paid for Woods' meals when they dined out. At some point,
Woods asked Henry about payment and he responded, "I
feed you, don't I?" (Tr. at 317.)
In the fall of 1998, Henry suffered a heart attack. He
recovered such that he could continue practicing law, but as
time went on he needed additional assistance with daily
tasks. Henry asked Woods to spend more time at his residence.
Eventually, Woods moved into Henry's house. She kept some
of her possessions there, but always maintained a separate
residence. Henry continued working until his mid-eighties. At
times, Woods took work providing in-home services for elderly
Sometime in 2006, Henry began having some episodes of falling
and he also began to need assistance to rise from a chair. In
early 2010, he began experiencing chest pains. In December of
2010, Henry had a second heart attack. Henry survived the
second heart attack, but became more sedentary. He developed
pressure sores, and Woods tended to those, after receiving
instruction at the St. Francis Wound Care Center. Henry died
on January 5, 2012, at the age of ninety-two. His will was
admitted to probate in Marion County.
Woods filed a claim against the Estate, seeking compensation
for fourteen years of services. As amended, Woods's claim
sought $381, 355.00 (for housekeeping services, nursing care,
cleaning supplies, and adult diapers). The services described
as relating to February 1998 to December 2008 (for $113,
Basic household chores for housekeeping/maid services for
3000 square foot home, vacuuming, dusting, mopping, cleaning,
cooking, average two meals daily, dishwashing, bed linens,
laundry, ironing and putting away clothes. In addition to the
basic services, heavy cleaning twice a year, lawn mowing
twice a week, trimming 94 bushes twice a year, landscaping,
planting, weeding, harvesting for vegetable garden, canning
all produce, tending flowers, washing furnace filters,
cleaning flooded basement two times and supervising the third
time, transportation, prescription pill monitoring, attending
doctor visits, and ...