Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Homan v. Unsupervised Estate of Homan

Court of Appeals of Indiana

April 15, 2019

John W. Homan, Successor Trustee to the Trust, Appellant-Petitioner,
v.
The Unsupervised Estate of Robert L. Homan, deceased, Appellee-Respondent

          Appeal from the LaPorte Circuit Court The Honorable Thomas J. Alevizos, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 46C01-1601-EU-20

          Attorney for Appellant Joseph J. Zaknoen Espar & Associates, P.C. Michigan City, Indiana

          Attorney for Appellee Douglas L. Biege Drayton, Biege, Sirugo & Elliott, LLP LaPorte, Indiana

          VAIDIK, CHIEF JUDGE.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] In Indiana, an owner of property can place that property in trust by declaring in writing that he or she holds it as trustee. The trust agreement at issue in this case provides that "[t]he GRANTOR hereby transfers to himself as TRUSTEE the property listed on the attached schedule, marked Schedule 'A', and incorporated herein," but the Schedule "A" attached to the agreement is blank. The issue is whether certain farm land discussed in a different part of the trust agreement was placed in trust notwithstanding the blank Schedule "A." We hold that it was not.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] Robert L. Homan died in January 2016. During his lifetime, he had owned approximately 300 acres of farm land in LaPorte County. When he died, his brother Paul F. Homan-the personal representative under Robert's 2009 will-opened an unsupervised estate and began taking actions relating to the farm land (i.e., renting land and selling crops). Later the same year, Robert's nephew, John W. Homan, filed a petition asking the trial court to convert the estate from unsupervised to supervised. John alleged that he is the successor trustee of a trust that Robert created in 2013, that Robert had put the farm land into the trust, that as a result the land was no longer part of Robert's personal estate, and that Paul's actions relating to the land are therefore improper.

         [¶3] The trust agreement begins by naming Robert as grantor and initial trustee and John as successor trustee:

THIS TRUST AGREEMENT executed this 15 day of Feb, 2013 by Robert L. Homan a/k/a Robert Homan of LaPorte County, Indiana, hereinafter "GRANTOR", and "TRUSTEE". If at any time Robert L. Hohman [sic] should be unable or unwilling to serve as TRUSTEE, the first successor trustee would the [sic] GRANTOR'S nephew, John W. Homan.

         Appellant's App. Vol. II p. 45. It then defines the "trust estate" as follows:

The GRANTOR hereby transfers to himself as TRUSTEE the property listed on the attached schedule, marked Schedule "A", and incorporated herein. That property and all investments and reinvestments thereof and additions thereto are herein collectively referred to as the "trust estate" and shall be held and disposed of upon the following trusts[.]

Id. However, the Schedule "A" attached to the agreement does not actually identify any property-it is blank. Id. at 54. In the trial court, John acknowledged that Schedule "A" was blank but argued that the farm land is nonetheless trust property because Article III of the agreement discusses the management and distribution of the farm land:

After the death of the GRANTOR [Robert] . . . the SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE [John] will continue holding the assets in the trust upon ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.