your resource for probate dispute matters

Our seasoned team of Estate and Trust litigators routinely handles disputes that involve probate, estate and guardianship matters. Learn more about the complex arena of probate, trust, and estate litigation by perusing our Estate and Trust Dispute Resource Center of Ohio microsite. Follow the blue navigation bar on the top of the page to read our blog posts, legal insights, law updates, representative cases, helpful resources, and more. 

Blog Posts

Can a disinherited person force the production of information necessary to substantiate the efforts required to pursue a challenge to a Will, beneficiary designation, or Trust?

Isolation and manipulation of a loved one by those who are intent on deriving benefits from an estate are frequent realities in estate litigation cases.  Undue influence, the process by which a person’s mind is subjugated so that the decision-making is actually that of the perpetrator, is almost always done behind closed doors.  The byproduct of isolation and conduct perpetrated in the dark is lack of information.  Family members are left with only questions and no answers.

The loss of a loved one is a devastating event, and can be a chaotic and confusing time for those left mourning. The making of phone calls to family and friends, the preparation of funeral arrangements, and the handling of other post-death matters must be addressed. But what do family members do when they find out that something suspicious has happened with their loved one’s last will and testament?

Lexis Nexis claims that 55% of American adults do not have a last will and testament or some kind of an estate plan. This means that more than half of American estates have their personal assets pass via intestacy - without a will and pursuant to the statutory scheme of the state where they live.

Ten years after the first enactment of the Ohio Trust Code, in Zook, et al. v. JP Morgan Chase Bank National Association, et al., 10th Dist. No. 15AP-751, 2017-Ohio-838, the Tenth District Ohio Court of Appeals gave insight into protections under the Ohio Trust Code afforded trustees against beneficiary claims and a provided a roadmap for a beneficiary to challenge such protection.

Following up on the recent blog post on basic principles of trust reporting, the Fifth District Court of Appeals released a timely analysis involving a trustee’s failure to account and an award of attorney fees against the trustee for their breach of duty in McHenry v. McHenry, (5th Dist.), 2017-Ohio 1534.  The decision, originating out of the Stark County Probate Court is significant for two reasons:  (1) it provides a thorough analysis of a trustee’s duty to account even in the face of trust language relieving the trustee of his duty to account; and (2) the court awarded attorney fees in excess of the value of the compensatory damages, pursuant to its authority under R.C. 5810.04.

The Ohio Supreme Court provided more guidance regarding how creditors present their claims against estates with its ruling in Wilson v. Lawrence, Case Nos. 2015-2081, 2016-0180, 2017-Ohio-1410.

The main issue the Supreme Court addressed is to whom a creditor claim must be presented. Pursuant to R.C. § 2117.06, a creditor must present its claim against the estate within six months following the decedent’s death.

When Ohio House Bill 432 and Ohio Revised Code Chapter 2137 became effective on April 4, 2017, estate fiduciaries were given new tools for managing a decedent’s digital property.

From social-media profiles, to email accounts, to Apple and Amazon digital libraries of music, movies, and media, more and more people are dying with digital assets stored in various clouds. Upon Chapter 2137 becoming effective, executors, administrators, and trustees can request a catalogue of the decedent’s digital assets with various providers and access to the same. 

You are a trust beneficiary. 

You have no idea what is in the trust, what has been spent out of the trust, and what will be spent out of the trust. 

Must the trustee open his books to you? What rights do you have to receive this information? 

Great wealth, in the trillions of dollars, will be transferred from one generation to the next as our population ages.  While most estates proceed as intended, there will always be greed and dysfunction among a small percentage of American families; so much so, that business for attorneys skilled in the pursuit or defense of estate disputes will be plentiful, as the number of disputes centered on challenges over the rights to a decedent’s assets will explode in the years to come. 

A parent of young children feels incredible stress and sadness when their children fight.  When healthy, the parent is capable of breaking up the fight or at least standing in between to force peace or at least stave off war.  But when parents age and their ability to take care of themselves diminishes, the power shifts.