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Undisputed will makes daughter’s appointment as special administrator improper

July 30, 2013

Because the special administrator provision in the Indiana Code did not apply, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled the trial court did not abuse is discretion when it removed a special administrator of an estate without considering the state statute.

 Darla Brenton appealed her removal as special administrator of the estate of Evelyn Norfleet for the purpose of bringing a wrongful death action. Brenton asserted the trial court did not comply with I.C. Section 29-1-10-6 which details the conditions for the removal of personal representatives.

Brenton had petitioned to be appointed as special administrator for the sole purpose of collecting damages for wrongful death after her mother, Norfleet, was struck and killed by a motor vehicle. At the time the court granted her petition, Brenton did not inform the court that Norfleet had a will that named her son, Leslie Lutz, as the executor.

The COA affirmed the trial court’s order removing Brenton as special administrator in Darla M. Brenton, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Evelyn Norfleet, Deceased v. Leslie d. Lutz, 77A01-1302-ES-86.

The appeals court ruled since the parties never disputed that Norfleet’s will was validly executed, Brenton’s appointment as special administrator was not proper under I.C. 29-1-10-15. Consequently, without a valid appointment of the special administrator, there is no reason to seek removal under I.C. Section 29-1-10-6.  
 

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