Wills, Trusts, and Estates, Pages 191–194

In re Estate of Javier Castro

Ohio Court of Common Pleas, 2014

Facts:

Decedent was in the hospital and refused a blood transfusion for religious reasons. Knowing this would lead to his death and without and paper, he and his brothers wrote a will on his brother's Samsung Galaxy tablet. He dictated the will while his brother handwrote it after discussing it. The three and decedent's nephew all signed the will on the tablet. Decedent then died, and his brother held onto the tablet continuously and had a password on it since then. Multiple others corroborated these facts.

Decedent had no descendants and so his estate would pass to his parents if the will was declared invalid, however his parents did not contest its validity. They said that even if it was declared invalid, they would distribute the property they received according to decedent's wishes.

Rule:

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Section 2107.03 provides the method for making a will. It states in part:

Except oral wills, every will shall be in writing, but may be handwritten or typewritten. The will shall be signed at the end by the testator or by some other person in the testator's conscious presence and at the testator's express direction. The will shall be attested and subscribed in the conscious presence of the testator, by two or more competent witnesses, who saw the testator subscribe, or heard the testator acknowledge the testator's signature.

Issue:

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The questions for the Court are as follows:

  1. Is this a "writing" and was the will "signed", and
  2. Has sufficient evidence been presented that this is the last will and testament of Javier Castro.

Reasoning:

  • Ohio law only requires that a wilCl be in "writing." It does not require it to be in a specific medium. Criminal law in Ohio includes digital writings in its definition of a writing. Similarly the signature should count.

  • This will would not be valid on its own because it does not have an attestation clause, but there is clear and convincing evidence that the decedent intended it to be his will.

    Note:

    This is wrong. An attestation clause is not required. The two witnesses are. The attestation clause just gives a presumption of validity.

Holding:

An electronic writing and signature should be allowed as decedent's will, and there is evidence that that was the decedent's intent.

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