Welcome to the latest edition of Reminger’s monthly newsletter, In Brief: Ohio Estate and Trust Litigation Updates, focused on estates, trusts, and guardianships and the disputes surrounding them.
Case Law Highlight
Deciphering the True Intentions of a Will

An individual’s Will or Trust is an important document that contains a decedent’s last wishes. When a probate court is asked to construe the beneficiary provisions within a Will or Trust, the most crucial consideration is the decedent’s intent. Indeed, the finder of fact’s role is to determine who the decedent intended to be the beneficiary of their estate, based on the evidence presented.  

In Skalsky v. Bowles, the decedent’s Will contained incompatible provisions as to distribution of his estate. While one provision left the remainder of his estate to his partner of over 30 years, a second provision left the residue to decedent’s next of kin. Decedent passed away leaving no issue. As such, decedent’s next of kin was his brother, whom decedent did not have a good relationship with and had not spoken to for many years. The brother filed a complaint to construe the Will. Specifically, the brother sought an order striking the conflicting provisions and naming himself as the sole beneficiary of decedent’s estate under intestate succession. Decedent’s attorney testified that decedent wanted to leave everything to his partner, and explicitly instructed that nothing should go to his brother. Further, the attorney indicated that the first draft of decedent’s Will was erroneously printed off and given to decedent to sign. As the Will was prepared and executed during Covid-19, decedent did not review the document with his attorney before he signed. Rather, the attorney left the Will, with instructions on how to execute the document, in a drop box for decedent to pick up at his office. Decedent’s friends also testified that decedent had told them, on multiple occasions, that he wanted all of his assets to go to his partner, he wanted to make sure she was taken care of, and he had no respect or love for his bother. Ultimately, the probate court ruled that decedent’s intent was to leave everything to his partner and that none of his assets were to pass to his brother. The 5th District upheld the probate court’s holding, finding the evidence was clear as to decedent’s intent. 

Attorneys at Reminger have experience handling disputes and litigation concerning the construction of Wills and Trusts. If you have reason to believe that your loved one’s estate planning document does not clearly and definitely express or convey their intent, or their intention is obscured by virtue of inconsistencies within the document, we encourage you to get in touch with our Estate, Trust, and Probate Litigation team so that we can further investigate. 
Ohio Probate News & Insights
Akron Bar Association's Annual Advanced Topics in Probate Law CLE
We are pleased to sponsor and participate in the Advanced Topics in Probate Law CLE hosted by the Akron Bar Association on June 10, 2022. Jessica Forrest will present a Case Law Update.

Save the Date! CLE Event in Columbus
On December 15, 2022, Reminger's Estate and Probate Litigation Practice Group will host an in-person probate law symposium with the Columbus Bar Association. More details to come!
Free Disinheritance E-Book
In our free e-book, Overcoming Disinheritance: Decoding the Estate Plan to Find a Path Forward, Adam Fried reviews the anatomy of an estate plan to help you estimate the value of an estate and examine how inheritances can be diverted by bad actors.

Ohio Probate Law Updates
Each week, our Estate and Trust attorneys review the latest Ohio Probate Case Law Updates. Visit our Estate and Trust Dispute Center of Ohio website for this month's newly added rulings.

Boy Scouts of America Estate Planning Seminar
Adam Fried and Paul Shugar will present at the 2022 Boy Scouts of America Lake Erie Council Estate Planning Seminar in September.

Allison McMeechan Recognized as a 2022 Smart Women “Progressive Woman" Honoree
Allison serves as the Chair of both Reminger's Elder Law and Special Needs Planning and Estate and Trust Administration Practice Groups.

Our Team
Shana DeMooy
Jessica S. Forrest
Adam M. Fried
Practice Group Chair
Timothy J. Gallagher
Patrick Kasson
Mary Kraft
Adriann S. McGee
Russell J. Meraglio, Jr.
P. Nicholas Sebastiano
Paul R. Shugar
Joseph S. Simms
Taylor Smoske
Leon A. Weiss
Estate and Trust Dispute Center of Ohio

Learn more about the complex arena of probate, trust, and estate litigation by reading our blog posts, legal insights, law updates, representative cases, resources, and more.

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