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Court didn't err in ordering cash bond

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court’s order that the two beneficiaries of a piece of property who objected to the sale of the land must each pay a $100,000 cash bond. The case also gave the appellate court the opportunity to decide the standard of review in this type of challenge.

John Cox and Daphne Barger were among several beneficiaries named in Doris P. Jackson’s will to receive 120 acres. A coal company offered to buy the land for $1.4 million dollars and the six other beneficiaries wanted to sell the land to pay off the obligations of the estate. Cox and Barger objected.

Following Indiana Code Section 29-1-15-4, the trial court granted the personal representatives of the estate’s request that Cox and Barger post a bond to pay the estate’s obligations, which were estimated at around $124,000. Cox and Barger were ordered to each pay $100,000. They filed this interlocutory appeal.

The Estate of Doris P. Jackson, John Cox, et al. v. George R. Jackson, II, et al., No. 77A04-1005-ES-331, happened to be the first time the Court of Appeals determined the standard of review for the type of challenge raised by Cox and Barger. They argued the trial court erred by requiring more than three times the amount of cash bond than was necessary from the objecting beneficiaries and by requiring a cash bond instead of one with a surety.

The appellate court concluded that because I.C. Section 29-1-15-4 lets the trial court “approve” both the amount and form of the bond, the abuse of discretion standard is appropriate. They also found the trial court didn’t abuse its discretion by ordering the high amount in a cash bond. The bond must be sufficient to pay all the obligations of the estate, not just the objecting beneficiary’s proportionate share, wrote Judge Terry Crone.

Because the difference in value between the estate’s obligations and the “other property” in the estate is at least $100,000, the trial court’s setting the bond at $100,000 wasn’t an abuse of discretion.

The statute references sureties, but the appellate court has previously held that cash can qualify as a surety.

“We cannot conclude that a trial court abuses its discretion in ordering a cash bond simply because it might pose a hardship and be more expensive than another form of surety,” he wrote. “Because that is the full extent of Appellants’ argument on this issue, we find no abuse of discretion in this case.”

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