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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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