Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Ohio Supreme Court: Interest Under Will Eliminated If Beneficiary Witness Is Necessary To Establish Validity Of Will

Estate planningIn In re Estate of Shaffer, the Ohio Supreme Court held Ohio's voiding statute "applies to both wills executed in compliance with formal requirements and those that fail to adhere to them." 

In 1967, Joseph Shaffer executed a formal will which stated that if his wife died before him, his estate would pass to his two sons, Mark and Terry, through trust. Joseph's wife died before him and he died in 2015. The probate court then admitted the 1967 will to probate. 

Juley Norman filed a claim against the estate and attached a copy of a note written on a notecard that was signed by Joseph Shaffer. However, there were not any other signatures on the notecard. The notecard bequeathed 1/4 of the estate to Juley Norman and appointed Terry as executor. 

The Ohio Probate Court held that the handwritten notecard was not a valid will. An Ohio appellate court reversed the decision of the probate court and admitted the notecard will, honoring the bequest to Juley. The Ohio Supreme Court held that Ohio's voiding statute applies to wills executed in compliance with formal requirements and those that are not. 

The Ohio Supreme Court ultimately found that the probate court rules correctly when they applied Ohio's voiding statute and determined that Juley Norman "as a beneficiary witness who was necessary to establish the validity of the will under Ohio law, could not be included in the list of beneficiaries of Joseph Shaffer’s estate." 

See Ohio Supreme Court: Interest Under Will Eliminated If Beneficiary Witness Is Necessary To Establish Validity Of Will, Probate Stars, December 21, 2020.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/trusts_estates_prof/2020/12/ohio-supreme-court-interest-under-will-eliminated-if-beneficiary-witness-is-necessary-to-establish-v.html

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