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Pence signs probate, problem-solving court legislation

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Gov. Mike Pence signed 25 bills into law Monday, including legislation restricting criminal background checks and changes to probate and trust administration.

House Enrolled Act 1056 makes various changes regarding a personal representative’s employment of an attorney, the powers and duties of a personal representative, guardianships and the rules of trust construction. The legislation also says that estate lawyers do not have a duty to collect, possess, manage, maintain, monitor or account for estate assets, unless otherwise required by a specific court order. Estate lawyers are also not liable for any loss suffered by the state, except for losses caused by the lawyer’s breach of duty owed to the personal representative. An estate attorney represents and only owes a duty to the personal representative under the new law.

The original bill was prepared by the Probate Code Study Commission. Estate attorneys hoped the legislation would clarify concerns raised after the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled on the scope and duties of a lawyer working on behalf of an estate’s personal representative.

House Enrolled Act 1016 allows problem-solving courts to offer rehabilitative services to participants. It also urges the Legislative Council to require the Commission on Courts during the 2013 legislative interim to evaluate the funding of veterans courts and to make recommendations to legislators. The new law also simplifies the problem-solving court fee transfer process.

HEA 1392 restricts criminal background checks and specifies that a clerk of a court is not a “criminal history provider” under the new law. The law allows a criminal history provider to provide certain information relating to an incident that did not result in a conviction, as well as provide information concerning expunged, restricted or reduced convictions to a person required by law to obtain the information. The introduced version of the bill was prepared by the Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Study Committee.

Other legislation Pence signed Monday includes:

HEA 1029 on who may obtain adoption history information; HEA 1061 allowing Marion Superior courts to appoint 12 full-time magistrates and Warrick Circuit and Superior courts to jointly appoint a magistrate; and HEA 1108 on sentencing for youthful offenders.

 

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  1. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

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