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Court of Appeals upholds Miller estate decision

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has sided with former Columbus, Ind., banker Will Miller in an estate battle launched by his older brother, Hugh.

In an opinion issued Thursday, Power of Attorney of Xenia S. Miller, et al. v. William Irwin Miller and Sarla Kals, No. 03A01-0912-CV-586, the court said Will Miller was correct to spend more than $20 million over 3-1/2 years on the upkeep of properties owned by the wealthy Columbus family.

The brothers are heirs to a fortune built over generations through the defunct Irwin Union Bank and Trust and diesel engine-maker Cummins Inc. Their parents, J. Irwin and Xenia Miller, were major philanthropists, noted for bringing world-reknowned modern art and architecture to their hometown.

The court's opinion led off with a quote from "The Tempest" by William Shakespeare: "What's past is prologue..." The line speaks to the question of whether Will and family financial adviser Sarla Kalsi, as Xenia's personal representatives, properly interpreted her wishes. Xenia was incompetent when J. Irwin died in 2004, but Will and Kalsi continued to spend huge sums on the upkeep of family properties, which they argued was in keeping with the Millers' long-established practice.

Hugh Miller contested the estate's spending in Bartholomew Superior Court. He argued that $2.7 million of the spending was more to the benefit of Will and Kalsi than Xenia, who died in 2008. The lower court sided with Will Miller, going so far as to grant payment of his attorney fees. Hugh appealed.

Although it upheld the lower court's ruling on the estate spending, the appellate court reversed the decision on attorney fees, saying Hugh's claim was not frivolous.
 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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