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Whitacre v. Crowe

Court of Appeals of Ohio
972 N.E.2d 659 (2012)


Facts

Kay Whitacre’s will named her daughter, Victoria (defendant), as the sole beneficiary and her son, Michael, as executor of her estate. The will made no mention of Kay’s three other children, Shawn, Angie, and Nick (plaintiffs). After Kay died and the will was admitted to probate, Shawn, Angie, and Nick filed a complaint contesting the validity of the will’s execution under Ohio law. Kay had signed the will in her upstairs bedroom, where a one-way video monitor transmitted video and audio of Kay to others in the living room downstairs. The monitor did not transmit sound or video in the other direction, from downstairs to upstairs. After Kay signed the will, her son, Michael, brought it downstairs, where Sara White and Joseph Reich signed the will as witnesses. Kay’s daughter, Victoria, was also present. The door to Kay’s bedroom was open at the time, and thus she may have been able to hear conversations and people in the living room below. Concluding that the witnesses had not attested and subscribed Kay’s will within her “conscious presence,” as required by Ohio law, the trial court granted summary judgment to Shawn, Angie, and Nick. Victoria appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Carr, J.)

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Dissent (Belfance, J.)

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