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Tax court rules on inheritance issue

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In Indiana, a person adopted pre-emancipation can't be considered a Class A transferee beneficiary for inheritance tax purposes, the Indiana Tax Court ruled Thursday afternoon in an issue of first impression.

In In Re The estate of Forrest W. Quackenbush, deceased, et al. v. Indiana Department of Revenue, Inheritance Tax Division, No. 49T10-0810-TA-61, Forrest Quackenbush's estate appealed the decision by the Tippecanoe Circuit Court determining its inheritance tax liability. The case raises an issue of first impression in whether, for inheritance tax purposes, a beneficiary should be classified as Class A or Class C transferee when she was adopted pre-emancipation during the lifetime of her biological grandfather.

Quackenbush included his biological granddaughter Pamela Stewart Martin and her two children in his trust. The estate treated the three as Class A transferees when filing its inheritance tax return, which the probate court accepted. But the inheritance tax division filed a petition for rehearing, during which the probate court later determined Martin and her sons should have been classified as Class C transferees, which increased the estate's inheritance tax liability.

The estate argued that nothing in I.C. Section 6-4.1-1-3 or inheritance tax statutes prevents an adoptee from being treated both as a lineal descendant of a natural ancestor and as the natural child of her adoptive parents for inheritance tax purposes. The Tax Court disagreed after examining the interrelationship between the state's descent and devise statutes and its inheritance statutes.

"The overall design of Indiana's probate code with respect to the distribution of property is to treat an adopted child as the natural child of the adoptive parents only," wrote Judge Thomas Fisher.

The General Assembly has unambiguously determined for purposes of inheritance, a child adopted pre-emancipation by unrelated individuals should be placed in a family status equal to that of a natural child of those adoptive parents only, the judge continued. Martin's biological ties to her natural parents were legally severed.

"The Court, having considered Indiana Code § 6-4.1-1-3 in relation to the aforementioned adoption and descent and devise statutes, concludes that the probate court correctly determined that the legislature did not intend to confer Class A transferee status to Pamela, Miles, or Matthias," wrote Judge Fisher.

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  1. Based on several recent Indy Star articles, I would agree that being a case worker would be really hard. You would see the worst of humanity on a daily basis; and when things go wrong guess who gets blamed??!! Not biological parent!! Best of luck to those who entered that line of work.

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  3. Don't believe me, listen to Pacino: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6bC9w9cH-M

  4. Law school is social control the goal to produce a social product. As such it began after the Revolution and has nearly ruined us to this day: "“Scarcely any political question arises in the United States which is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question. Hence all parties are obliged to borrow, in their daily controversies, the ideas, and even the language, peculiar to judicial proceedings. As most public men [i.e., politicians] are, or have been, legal practitioners, they introduce the customs and technicalities of their profession into the management of public affairs. The jury extends this habitude to all classes. The language of the law thus becomes, in some measure, a vulgar tongue; the spirit of the law, which is produced in the schools and courts of justice, gradually penetrates beyond their walls into the bosom of society, where it descends to the lowest classes, so that at last the whole people contract the habits and the tastes of the judicial magistrate.” ? Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

  5. Attorney? Really? Or is it former attorney? Status with the Ind St Ct? Status with federal court, with SCOTUS? This is a legal newspaper, or should I look elsewhere?

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