COA split on retroactive application of Transfer on Death Property Act

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed Wednesday that a trial court erred in concluding a promissory note executed between a mother and son is an asset of the mother’s estate, although the panel was split as to why the court erred.

Charles Rupley executed the promissory note in 2006 with his mother, Ruth Rupley. Charles Rupley had borrowed $72,500 from his mother. She died in 2008 and 1st Source Bank, as successor personal representative, asked the trial court to determine whether the note balance transferred to Charles Rupley at his mother’s death, is an asset of her estate, or was forgiven by Ruth Rupley upon her death.

Charles Rupley argued the Indiana Transfer on Death Property Act applied retroactively to the note, so the transfer on death provision in the promissory note transferred it to him when his mother died. The trial court ordered the bank to include the note as an asset of the estate.

Judges Melissa May and Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik determined that the Act applies retroactively, citing language in it that says “transfer on death security, transfer on death securities account or pay on death account created before July 1, 2009.”

“We now turn to Ind. Code §32-17-14-4(d), which explains that a statutory transfer on death directive is accomplished in a form substantially similar to the following: 1) insert the name of the owner or owners; 2) insert transfer on death to, TOD, pay on death to, or POD, and insert the name of the beneficiary or beneficiaries. Here, the promissory note includes the name of the owner, Ruth, and the beneficiary, Charles. It includes language directing the note is payable on death to Charles. Because the promissory note meets the statutory requirements of a pay on death account, the note should have transferred directly to Charles upon Ruth’s death. It is not an asset of Ruth’s estate, and the trial court erred in so concluding,” May wrote in In re the Estate of Ruth M. Rupley, Charles A. Rupley v. Michael L. Rupley, 71A05-1306-ES-288.

Judge Patricia Riley, although agreeing that the promissory note is not an asset of the estate, disagreed that the Transfer on Death Property Act retroactively applies in this case.

“Although the majority throughout its opinion characterizes the Note as a Promissory Note and the parties did not contest its legality, the majority, now by a sleight of hand, notes that actually, by its terms, the Promissory Note is a pay on death account. However, the Note cannot be both a Promissory Note and a pay on death account as that would lead to incongruous results within the statute — an outcome never intended by our Legislature. On the one hand, a promissory note, as property, is explicitly excluded from the retroactive application of the Act whereas a pay on death account falls within the limited retroactive exceptions. As its character was never disputed until the majority ‘re-termed’ it, I necessarily conclude that the retroactive character does not apply,” she wrote.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.