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In re Estate of Sedlacek

Court of Appeals of Nebraska

July 16, 2019

In re Estate of Leonard John Sedlacek, deceased.
v.
Valley County, Nebraska, appellant. James Psota, Personal Representative of the Estate of Leonard John Sedlacek, deceased, appellee,

         1. Decedents' Estates: Taxation: Appeal and Error. On appeal of an inheritance tax determination, an appellate court reviews the case for error appearing on the record.

         2. Judgments: Appeal and Error. When reviewing a judgment for errors appearing on the record, the inquiry is whether the decision conforms to the law, is supported by competent evidence, and is neither arbitrary, capricious, nor unreasonable.

         3. Decedents' Estates: Parent and Child: Taxation: Appeal and Error. Factual findings necessary in determining whether the requisite acknowledged parent-child relationship of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-2004 (Reissue 2018) exists should be reviewed for sufficient evidence and should not be disturbed on appeal unless clearly wrong.

         4. Decedents' Estates: Taxation: Statutes: Proof. Statutes exempting property from inheritance tax should be strictly construed, and the burden is on the taxpayer to show that he or she clearly falls within the language of the statute.

         5. Decedents' Estates: Parent and Child: Taxation. The following factors serve as appropriate guideposts to the trial court in making a determination of an acknowledged relationship of a parent under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-2004 (Reissue 2018): (1) reception of the child into the home and treatment of the child as a member of the family, (2) assumption of the responsibility for support beyond occasional gifts and financial aid, (3) exercise of parental authority and discipline, (4) relationship by blood or marriage, (5) advice and guidance to the child, (6) sharing of time and affection, and (7) existence of written documentation [27 Neb.App. 391] evincing the decedent's intent to act as a parent. This list of guideposts is not exhaustive, nor will every factor necessarily be present in each case. A trial court should consider all pertinent factors in arriving at that determination.

         6.__:__:__ . The law recognizes that although a natural parent-child relationship may exist elsewhere, if the parties regard each other in all of the usual incidents and relationships of family life as parent and child, the benefits of the inheritance tax statute flow.

          Appeal from the County Court for Valley County: Tami K. Schendt, Judge.

          Brandon B. Hanson for appellant.

          Amanda L. Tobey, of Peterson Legal Services, PC, L.L.O.. for appellee.

          Pirtle and Bishop, Judges.

          PIRTLE, JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         Valley County (County) appeals from an order entered in the county court for Valley County finding that Leonard John Sedlacek stood in place of a parent for James Psota and that thus, Psota was entitled to a "Class 1" inheritance tax rate for property inherited from Sedlacek's estate. The County argues that there was not sufficient evidence of a parent-child relationship between Psota and Sedlacek and that ...


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