Judges affirm decision in familial dispute over insurance funds

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When Nathaniel Kappel died, it led to a dispute in the family as to who is entitled to insurance payouts on policies that Nathaniel Kappel and his brother William took out on each other in 1996. The Court of Appeals agreed with the probate court that Nathaniel Kappel’s estate is not entitled to funds from either man’s policy.

Nathaniel and William Kappel farmed together and created an agreement in 1973 that spelled out the terms of their partnership and the value of the partnership. Both men took out an insurance policy on the other valued at $50,000 in the event of one’s death. In 1996, the two took out $750,000 insurance policies on the other, but did not add those policies into the original agreement.

Nathaniel Kappel died in March 2004. The estate sought to recover the $750,000 paid on the State Life policy insuring Nathaniel Kappel’s life. Those efforts failed, so the estate filed a petition to marshal assets. William Kappel, along with his wife, Judith, and son, Mark, filed various claims against the estate. The estate countersued claiming conversion of the First Colony policy funds Nathaniel Kappel took out on William Kappel.

The probate court denied the estate recovery of the insurance proceeds, ordered William and Mark Kappel to withdraw their claims, and denied William and Judith Kappel's complaint for contribution as to a mortgage and taxes on the brothers’ farmland filed by the father and son.

In In the Matter of the Estate of Nathaniel Kappel v. William Kappel, Judith Kappel, and Mark Kappel, 32A01-1111-ES-526, the Court of Appeals affirmed that the $750,000 proceeds from the State Life policy are not property of the estate. The estate claimed pursuant to the 1973 agreement that money was to go to the estate, and William Kappel’s failure to pay it was a breach of contract and conversion.

The probate court found the 1973 agreement was abandoned because the brothers welcomed a third party into the farming operation and did not annually update the partnership valuation as contemplated by the agreement. The Court of Appeals ruled that the estate couldn’t establish the probate court’s decision was a clear error.

There was also no error in the decision finding that William and Judith Kappel did not convert the proceeds of the First Colony policy. The evidence showed that Nathaniel Kappel applied to liquidate the policy on his brother’s life and that money was deposited into the farm’s account to address the mounting losses of the partnership. There was a question as to the validity of the signature on the insurance check.

The COA also denied the estate’s request to remand the matter for a jury trial and affirmed the decision by the probate court to deny attorney fees to William, Judith and Mark Kappel. There’s no evidence to show the estate pursued the litigation in bad faith.



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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues