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In re Estate of Atkinson

Probate Court of Huron County, Ohio
175 N.E.2d 548 (1961)


Walter S. Atkinson died with a will that made gifts to Maxine Burdette and Patricia Burgeois (defendants), his daughters from a prior marriage, but made no provision for his widow, Emma Atkinson (plaintiff). Emma elected to take a spousal forced share of the estate and objected to the exclusion of three certificates of deposit (CDs) from the estate inventory and appraisement. Each of the CDs was registered in Walter’s name and marked P.O.D., meaning payable on death, to either Maxine or Patricia. Maxine and Patricia argued in opposition to Emma’s claim that the CDs should be part of the estate, that the CDs passed by operation of law upon Walter’s death and do not enter the estate. In support of their position, Maxine and Patricia asserted that the pay on death provision in the CDs is akin to bank accounts or securities where the asset passes automatically to the surviving co-owner upon death, without the requirement of being executed with the formalities of a will. Therefore, the question before the court is whether the CDs are testamentary instruments that must comply with the requirements for executing a valid will.

Rule of Law

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Holding and Reasoning (Young, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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