DAWN WALLACE, et al. Appellant
WILLIAM DAVIES Appellee
FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF
SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. 2018-CV-93
CHARLES TYLER, SR., Attorney at Law, for Appellant.
NICHOLAS SCHNECKENBURGER, Attorney at Law, for Appellee.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
JENNIFER HENSAL, JUDGE
Dawn Wallace appeals from the judgment of the Summit County
Court of Common Pleas, Probate Division, granting summary
judgment in favor of William Davies. This Court affirms.
This appeal stems from a will-contest action wherein Ms.
Wallace and her four siblings contested a later-dated will of
their mother, Bonnie Becker. By way of background, Ms. Becker
was married to Mr. Davies until their divorce in 2015. On
December 19, 2014, while they were married, Ms. Becker
executed a will ("2014 Will"). In it, she devised
all of her real and personal property to her five children
equally, and appointed Ms. Wallace as the executor. The 2014
Will contained no provision for Mr. Davies. Then, on August
8, 2017, Ms. Becker executed a new will ("2017
Will"). In the 2017 Will, Ms. Becker devised 10% of her
real and personal property to each of her five children, and
devised the remaining 50% to a trust for the benefit of her
grandson, whom she had custody of. The 2017 Will appointed
Mr. Davies as the trustee of that trust, and as the executor.
Ms. Becker passed away weeks after she executed the 2017
After she passed, Ms. Becker's five children filed a
will-contest action, alleging, in part, that Ms. Becker was
unduly influenced by Mr. Davies at the time she executed the
2017 Will, that she lacked the requisite testamentary
capacity, and that the signature on the 2017 Will was not Ms.
Becker's signature, or that it was procured as a result
of fraud committed by Mr. Davies.
Mr. Davies moved for summary judgment, arguing that there was
no evidence of undue influence, that Ms. Becker had
testamentary capacity, and that the signature on the 2017
Will was valid. The probate court granted Mr. Davies's
motion. Ms. Wallace now appeals, raising one assignment of
error for this Court's review.
LOWER COURT ERRED IN GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN
FAVOR O[F] THE DEFENDANT/APPELLEE.
In her assignment of error, Ms. Wallace argues that the
probate court erred by granting summary judgment because a
genuine issue of material fact remained as to whether Mr.
Davies exerted undue influence over Ms. Becker. Ms. Wallace
has not challenged the probate court's determination
regarding Ms. Becker's testamentary capacity or the
validity of her signature. This Court's analysis,
therefore, will focus solely on the issue of undue influence.
This Court reviews an award of summary judgment de novo.
Grafton v. Ohio Edison Co., 77 Ohio St3d 102, 105
(1996). Pursuant to ...