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Appeals court partially reverses denial of familial sale from trust

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A trustee who canceled the sale of Johnson County farmland from mother to son was within her rights to do so, but the 91-year-old mother was capable of executing the agreement, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

The court affirmed that Nancy Gilliland individually and as successor trustee of the Ruth E. Fulp Revocable Trust did not tortiously interfere with a contract that Harold Fulp had signed to purchase farmland his mother owns in a trust. He farmed the land near Franklin on a rental basis.

But the appeals court reversed the trial court by holding that Ruth Fulp at 91 could properly execute a purchase agreement, and the family dynamic was a factor in her agreeing to sell the property below market value.

Harold Fulp had presented various purchase scenarios for the land and suggested he pay $2,200 per acre, the same price his mother had allowed a daughter to pay years earlier.

Mother and son agreed on a total purchase price of $450,252, but before the deal could be closed, Gilliland canceled the transaction. The trial court found for Gilliland and ruled that Ruth was not mentally competent.

“Absent a finding of undue influence or mental incapacity — which Gilliland does not allege, nor did the trial court find any — Ruth entered into a valid agreement and Harold is entitled to specific performance of the Purchase Offer Agreement,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote in a unanimous opinion.

On the other hand, the court also upheld Gilliland’s voiding the deal in her role as trustee.

“Being confronted with a purchase offer agreement that depleted the trust corpus and sold the farm below fair market value, Gilliland, as successor trustee, had a legitimate and reasonable reason to repudiate the agreement. Therefore, we conclude that she did not tortiously interfere in the contractual relationship between Ruth and Harold,” Riley wrote.


 

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  1. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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