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In re Estate of Sickmiller

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District

September 3, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF: THE ESTATE OF MARJORIE SICKMILLER DEWAYNE EVANS - APPELLANT

Appeal from Paulding County Common Pleas Court Probate Division Trial Court No. 20121031

David Meekison for Appellant.

James M. Sponseller for Appellee.

OPINION

ROGERS, J.

(¶1} Exceptor-Appellant, DeWayne Evans, appeals the judgment of the Paulding County Court of Common Pleas, Probate/Juvenile Division, denying his exception to the Inventory of the Estate of Marjorie Sickmiller ("the Estate"). On appeal, Evans argues that the trial court erred in determining that the firearms found in Sickmiller's house after her death constituted property of the Estate. For the reasons that follow, we dismiss the appeal for lack of a final, appealable order.

(¶2} Sickmiller died testate on February 19, 2012. Evans is one of Sickmiller's children. On August 27, 2012, the Estate's Administrator filed an Inventory of Assets ("the Inventory"). The Inventory listed the following relevant items as assets of the Estate: (1) $18, 550.00 in firearms found in Sickmiller's house after her death; and (2) an approximate debt of $21, 000.00 owed by Evans to Sickmiller. On September 26, 2012, Evans filed an exception challenging the listing of these items as assets of the Estate. Specifically, he claimed that the firearms belonged to him and that he owed Sickmiller a much more modest debt of approximately $700.00.

(¶3} On December 9, 2012, the trial court held a hearing on Evans' exception to the listing of the firearms in the Inventory. On December 18, 2012, the trial court issued a judgment entry denying Evans' exception regarding firearms. The entry includes the following pertinent language:

Therefore the Court FINDS and ORDERS that the exception regarding the firearms is NOT WELL TAKEN and the firearms are the property of the estate of Marjorie Sickmiller. * * *
The remaining issue regarding the amount of debt owed [to] the Estate by DeWayne Evans shall proceed following the filing of the necessary complaints. As all parties are aware, the undersigned will be unavailable for further hearing until late March, 2013.
IT IS SO ORDERED. (Emphasis sic.) (Judgment Entry of Dec. 18, 2012, p. 6).

(¶4} On December 31, 2012, Evans filed another exception to the Estate's Inventory. This exception again challenged the amount of the debt Evans purportedly owed to the Estate. No hearing was held on this exception and the trial court never issued a judgment entry disposing of it. The trial court also failed to issue a judgment entry approving a final inventory.

(¶5} Evans filed this appeal, presenting the following assignment of error for our review.

Assignment of Error

THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN REJECTING MR. EVANS' EXCEPTION AND HOLDING THAT THE FIREARMS LISTED IN THE INVENTORY ARE THE ...


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