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In re Estate of Robison

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

December 12, 2017

In re Estate of Thomas W. Robison, Jr., (Thomas W. Robison, III, Appellant).

         APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Probate Division (Prob. No. 578505)

         On brief:

          Bricker & Eckler LLP, Quintin F. Lindsmith, and Ali I. Haque, for appellee. Argued: Ali I. Haque.

          Thomas W. Robison, III, pro se.

         Argued:

          Thomas W. Robison, III.

          DECISION

          KLATT, J.

         {¶ 1} Appellant, Thomas W. Robison, III, appeals a judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Probate Division, that adopted the magistrate's decision granting certain exceptions to the estate inventory. Because we lack a final appealable order, we dismiss this appeal.

         {¶ 2} On April 4, 2016, Thomas W. Robison, Jr. ("decedent") died testate. Appellant was appointed the executor of his father's estate. On August 4, 2016, appellant filed the estate inventory. Appellee, Jenny Bee Choo Robison, the surviving spouse of decedent, filed exceptions to the inventory. She contended that appellant (1) excluded a number of vehicles owned by decedent from the inventory, (2) mischaracterized decedent's ownership interest in real property located in Lancaster, Ohio, (3) excluded a lease between appellant and decedent for appellant's residential use of real property in Pataskala, Ohio, (4) improperly included two vehicles subject to a surviving spouse's election pursuant to R.C. 2106.18 in the inventory, and (5) misidentified the VIN or vehicle description for five vehicles.

         {¶ 3} After an unsuccessful attempt at mediation, a magistrate held a hearing on appellee's exceptions to the inventory. Appellant did not appear although counsel for appellant was present. At the hearing, appellee presented 38 certificates of title and 2 sets of BMV search records using decedent's social security number that identified vehicles owned by decedent that were not included in the inventory. Documents intended to correct the inventory with regard to VIN numbers and vehicle descriptions were also submitted. With regard to the exceptions involving real property, appellee introduced deeds, certificates of transfer and/or title records for property located on Harlem Road in Westerville, Ohio, in Lancaster, Ohio, and in Pataskala, Ohio. During the hearing, appellee made an oral motion to exclude the Harlem Road property from the inventory because the property was not owned by decedent at the time of his death.

         {¶ 4} On December 14, 2016, the magistrate filed his decision. The exceptions pertaining to vehicles owned by decedent but excluded from the inventory were granted. The magistrate ordered that the inventory be amended to include the vehicles identified in appellee's exhibits B and C. Also, the mistakes on the inventory regarding VIN numbers and vehicle descriptions identified in exhibit F were ordered to be corrected. The magistrate granted the exception with regard to the Lancaster property and ordered that the inventory be amended to reflect that decedent had a 2/3-ownership interest in the Lancaster property. The oral motion to exclude the Harlem Road property from the inventory was granted.

         {¶ 5} The magistrate denied the remaining exceptions. Because appellee testified that there was no lease on the Pataskala property and that property had been bequeathed to appellant in decedent's will, the magistrate concluded that appellant had the right to reside on the property. The magistrate also indicated that because the inventory was incomplete regarding vehicles owned by decedent, appellee would have the opportunity to select up to two vehicles to exclude from the inventory once the inventory was amended.

         {¶ 6} In addition to resolving the exceptions to the inventory, the magistrate ordered appellant to appear for a hearing on his removal as executor. The magistrate extended the time period for appellee, as surviving spouse, to make elections under R.C. Chapter 2106.

         {¶ 7} On December 28, 2016, appellant objected to the magistrate's decision. He argued that the Harlem Road property should not have been excluded from the inventory and that the surviving spouse should not be permitted to select up to two vehicles pursuant to R.C. 2106.18(A). No transcript of the November 29, 2016 hearing was filed within 30 days of the filing of the objections as required by Civ.R. 53(D)(3)(b)(iii).

         {¶ 8} Appellant filed a motion for leave to correct transcript filing. He alleged that there was confusion as to the existence of a recording of the November 29, 2016 hearing. He mistakenly assumed that the digital recording filed on December 14, 2016, the same day the magistrate's order was filed, was the recording that needed to be transcribed. He realized his error when the transcript was filed. On February 24, 2017, appellant filed the transcript from the November 29, 2017 hearing, without leave of court.

         {¶ 9} On March 7, 2017, the trial court entered its judgment entry denying appellant's objections and adopting the magistrate's decision. It noted that pursuant to R.C. 2115.02, an executor is required to make and return a true inventory of real property and tangible and intangible assets owned by a decedent at the time of death. The trial court determined that the magistrate did not err in ordering that the inventory be amended to include vehicles that ...


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