Legislative and judicial history settles feud over estate

June 29, 2015

Sisters arguing over the family estate failed to provide the court with “clear and convincing evidence” that their father’s intentions were different from his actions.

Beth M. Herin and Belinda Herin McIntyre contested the decision from Jefferson Circuit Court which found that the four certificates of deposit, totaling $160,000, belonged to their brother, Stephen E. Herin. The sisters asserted the CDs, instead, belonged to the estate of their father, Ralph E. Herin.

However, in In the Matter of Supervised Estate of Ralph E. Herin, Beth M. Herin and Belinda Herin McIntyre v. Stephen E. Herin, 39A05-1411-ES-537, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

Ralph Herin went to the bank with his son, Stephen, in February 2011 and executed documents for four CDs. At that time, the elder Herin added his son as a joint co-owner on each.

After Ralph Herin died in July 2013, the bank petitioned the trial court for guidance concerning the distribution of the CDs. The court held two hearings before concluding the certificates were the sole property of Stephen rather than the estate.

The sisters appealed but the unanimous Court of Appeals found they did not provide enough evidence to overturn the decision.

Pointing the legislative and judicial history surrounding Indiana’s probate code, senior Judge Randall Shepard wrote that “contentions about common law presumptions or the adequacy of bank processes do not function to vitiate the apparent intent of a decedent who places assets into an arrangement of joint ownership. Only ‘clear and convincing evidence of a different intention at the time the account is created,’ to quote the Code will do so.”



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