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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. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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