On July 1, 2019, Governor Eric Holcomb appointed one of the law firm’s partners, Don Hopper, to the Probate Code Study Commission (PCSC). The PCSC originally began as the Trust Code Study Commission (TCSC) in the 1960s and helped to enact the Trust Code in 1971. In the 1970s when the Commission on Uniform Laws was working on the Uniform Probate Code (UPC) the TCSC became the Probate Code Study Commission. The PCSC continued in existence until 2015 when the Indiana legislature decided that there were too many commissions and the costs were too high, so they sunsetted all commissions including the PCSC.
The 2019 legislature reestablished the PCSC. Under Ind. Code 2-5-16.1-13 the PCSC’s role is to study and recommend to the general assembly needed changes in:
1) The probate code,
2) The trust code and
3) Any other statute affecting the administration of a decedent’s estate, guardianship, probate jurisdiction, trust or fiduciary.
In practice, the PCSC is an intermediary and sounding board for possible changes in these laws from the legislature, probate bar and citizens. Don has been an active member of the Indiana State Bar Association’s Probate, Trust and Real Property (PTRP) and the Section’s Probate Review Committee (PRC). The PRC involves 40-50 probate and real estate attorneys around the state. If issues arise in their practices where there may need to be new laws or changes in current laws, working groups of 3-5 attorneys study the issues and propose possible legislation for the PRC’s consideration. If approved by the PRC, those legislative proposals will be submitted to the PCSC for consideration. Don is Chair-Elect of the PTRP Section and will become Chair in October 2019.
The PCSC is made up of legislators (6), attorneys practicing in estate planning, guardianships, trusts, probate of estates, probate litigation and creditors’ rights (6), a trust officer, a trial judge, and a law professor. Except for the legislators, the Governor appoints 9 members and each congressional district must have at least one member. Those appointed serve a 2-year term. Other attorneys appointed by Governor Holcomb include Jeff Kolb (Vincennes), Jim Martin (Merrillville), Sara Shade (Muncie), Kip White (Covington) and Cindy Wolfer (Fort Wayne). The first meeting of the PCSC was August 12 and will be meeting in September and October. At the October meeting, the PCSC will determine what legislative proposals to submit to the 2020 legislative session and which issues need additional study.