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In re Estate of Cross

Supreme Court of Ohio
664 N.E.2d 905 (1996)


Facts

Beulah Cross (defendant) was almost eighty years old, suffering from Alzhiemer’s disease  and living in a nursing home paid by Medicaid when her husband, Carroll R. Cross died and left his entire estate to Ray G. Cross (plaintiff), who was Carroll’s son but not Beulah’s child. Due to her disease, Beulah was not competent to decide whether to elect under R.C. 2106.01 to take her spousal share of the estate. Pursuant to R.C. 2106.08, the probate court appointed a commissioner to decide whether the probate court should elect, on Beulah’s behalf, for her to receive her spousal share. Under R.C. 2106.08 the court must consider the available resources, age and life expectancy, “physical and mental condition,” and “present and reasonably anticipated needs” of the spouse to determine whether election of a spousal forced share “is necessary to provide adequate support for the surviving spouse.” The commissioner investigated Beulah’s circumstances and determined that the court should elect for Beulah to receive her spousal forced share. Ray appealed the probate court’s determination, asserting that Beulah’s expenses were fully paid by Medicaid and therefore she did not need the spousal share for her support and maintenance. The court of appeals reversed the probate court, ruling that taking her forced spousal share against the will was not in Beulah’s best interests because the expenses for her care and maintenance at the nursing home were paid by Medicaid. Since Beulah died while the appeal in the court of appeals was pending, the administrator of her estate, and an intervening party, Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners, appealed to the Supreme Court of Ohio.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Sweeney, J.)

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