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COA finds lease payments are part of Trust

July 8, 2015

Siblings trading motions over their deceased father’s estate got multiple denials from the trial court. While it agreed the majority of the trial court decisions, the Court of Appeals overturned a ruling concerning income derived from billboards.  

Wayne Lewis Stayback, the deceased father, established a Trust in 2010, the corpus of which consisted of about 75 acres of real property in LaPorte County where he operated a paintball course.

Among his children’s disputes were the lease payments from the billboards erected on the property. Joseph Stayback, the trustee, requested the payments be made directly to him. His siblings, Jeffrey Stayback and Julie Warnke, contended that under the terms of the Trust, the payments should have been distributed among the three of them rather than kept in the trust.

The LaPorte Superior Court concluded the billboard contract was not part of the trust and ordered the income be divided equally among the three children.

In In Re: the matter of the Supervised Administration of the Estate of Wayne Lewis Stayback, deceased, Joseph Stayback v. Jeffrey Stayback and Julie Warnke, 46A03-1410-ES-378, the Court of Appeals reversed that ruling.

The unanimous panel found that the trust conveyed a life estate in the property to Joseph Stayback as long as he continued to operate a paintball business there. Since he is fulfilling that condition, the appellate court held he has a right to the rents and profits of the real estate, including the payments from the billboards.

 

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