Benjamin T. Ballou | Hodges & Davis Law Firm Northwest Indiana

The Indiana legislature was quite busy this past session regarding probate and trust law when it passed HEA 1205, HEA 1208, SEA 66, SEA 67 and SEA 193. This update will focus on SEA 66, which became effective July 1, 2022.

When a solvent supervised estate is ready to be closed and the assets distributed, certain actions must be taken by the court-appointed personal representative. First, a final account must be filed and approved by the court. Once approved, the personal representative then proceeds to distribute the estate assets to the individuals entitled thereto (heirs, if there is no will, and legatees/devisees if there is a will). After distribution occurs, the personal representative must file a Supplemental Report of Distribution advising the court that all distributions have been made and requesting discharge from any further liability or responsibility. The court then enters an order approving the Supplemental Report of Distribution, discharges the personal representative, and closes the estate.

What if an asset listed in the Final Account has not been distributed after the court enters the order closing the estate? The legislature passed SEA 66 to provide a mechanism to address this particular situation.

A distributee entitled to the asset specifically described in the Final Account can file or record an affidavit with the court which: (1) states the cause number and caption of the estate; (2) states the date on which the decree of final distribution was entered by the court; (3) identifies the undistributed asset described in the decree and to which the distributee is entitled; (4) states the interest in the assets that has passed to the distributee who signs the affidavit and to each other distributee who has an interest in the asset; and (5) states that the undistributed asset has passed by operation of law pursuant to I.C. 29-1-7-23(a) to the distributee who signs the affidavit, as a result of the decedent’s death and the entry of the decree of final distribution. I.C. § 29-1-17-13.5(b).

If the undistributed asset consists of an interest in real property, the affidavit and the decree of final distribution must be filed with the county recorder where the real property is located. I.C. § 29-1-17-13.5(d).

In addition, the statute provides the personal representative with powers to complete distribution and delivery of undistributed assets for a period of 90 days after the order of discharge. I.C. § 29-1-17-13.5(e). During this period, the personal representative can execute documentation to assign or transfer undistributed personal property without further order of the court. The personal representative is also empowered to sign and record a Personal Representative’s Deed to complete the distribution of real property.

The distributee can also petition the court during the 90-day period following discharge for an order compelling the personal representative to sign and deliver, or to sign and record, a Personal Representative’s Deed or other assignment or transfer document to complete the distribution of the asset. If timely filed, the court’s order is effective without notice to any persons other than the personal representative and the distributee who filed the petition, even if the order is issued after the expiration of the 90-day period.

While the goal is to ensure that all assets are distributed before an estate is closed, there are instances when this simply does not occur for some reason. Recognizing that this scenario can present itself, the legislature proactively enacted SEA 193 to provide flexibility to the estate distributees and the personal representative in the event this situation arises.

Please note that this post is only a brief summary of SEA 66 and does not constitute legal advice nor does it establish an attorney/client relationship.  Should you have specific questions regarding the above, please contact Benjamin T. Ballou at Hodges and Davis, P.C.

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