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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. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

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