Chapter 5817: DETERMINATION OF VALIDITY OF TRUST OR WILL DURING LIFETIME

5817.01 Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

(A)

(1) "Beneficiary under a trust" means either of the following:

(a) Any person that has a present or future beneficial interest in a trust, whether vested or contingent;

(b) Any person that, in a capacity other than that of trustee, holds a power of appointment over trust property, but does not include the class of permitted appointees among whom the power holder may appoint.

(2) "Beneficiary under a trust" includes a charitable organization that is expressly designated in the terms of the trust to receive distributions, but does not include any charitable organization that is not expressly designated in the terms of the trust to receive distributions, but to whom the trustee may in its discretion make distributions.

(B)

(1) "Beneficiary under a will" means either of the following:

(a) Any person designated in a will to receive a testamentary disposition of real or personal property;

(b) Any person that, in a capacity other than that of executor, holds a power of appointment over estate assets, but does not include the class of permitted appointees among whom the power holder may appoint.

(2) "Beneficiary under a will" includes a charitable organization that is expressly designated in the terms of the will to receive testamentary distributions, but does not include any charitable organization that is not expressly designated in the terms of the will to receive distributions, but to whom the executor may in its discretion make distributions.

(C) "Court" means the probate court of the county in which the complaint under section 5817.02 or 5817.03 of the Revised Code is filed or the general division of the court of common pleas to which the probate court transfers the proceeding under division (A) of section 5817.04 of the Revised Code.

(D) "Related trust" means a trust for which both of the following apply:

(1) The testator is the settlor of the trust.

(2) The trust is named as a beneficiary in the will in accordance with section 2107.63 of the Revised Code.

(E) "Related will" means a will for which both of the following apply:

(1) The testator is the settlor of a trust.

(2) The will names the trust as a beneficiary in accordance with section 2107.63 of the Revised Code.

(F) "Trust" means an inter vivos revocable or irrevocable trust instrument to which, at the time the complaint for declaration of validity is filed under section 5817.03 of the Revised Code, either of the following applies:

(1) The settlor resides in, or is domiciled in, this state.

(2) The trust's principal place of administration is in this state.



Added by 132nd General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 595, §1, eff. 3/22/2019.

5817.02 Action by testator.

(A) A testator may file a complaint with the probate court to determine before the testator's death that the testator's will is a valid will subject only to subsequent revocation or modification of the will. The right to file a complaint for a determination of the validity of a testator's will under this chapter, or to voluntarily dismiss a complaint once filed, is personal to the testator and may not be exercised by the testator's guardian or an agent under the testator's power of attorney.

(B) A testator who desires to obtain a validity determination as to the testator's will shall file a complaint to determine the validity of both the will and any related trust.

(C) The failure of a testator to file a complaint for a judgment declaring the validity of a will shall not be construed as evidence or an admission that the will is not valid.

(D) A complaint for a determination of the validity of a testator's will shall be accompanied by an express written waiver of the testator's physician-patient privilege provided in division (B) of section 2317.02 of the Revised Code.



Added by 132nd General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 595, §1, eff. 3/22/2019.

5817.03 Action by settlor.

(A) A settlor may file a complaint with the probate court to determine before the settlor's death that the settlor's trust is valid and enforceable under its terms, subject only to a subsequent revocation or modification of the trust. The right to file a complaint for a determination of the validity of a settlor's trust under this chapter, or to voluntarily dismiss a complaint once filed, is personal to the settlor and may not be exercised by the settlor's guardian or an agent under the settlor's power of attorney.

(B) A settlor who desires to obtain a validity determination as to the settlor's trust shall file a complaint to determine the validity of both the trust and the related will.

(C) The failure of a settlor to file a complaint for a judgment declaring the validity of a trust shall not be construed as evidence or an admission that the trust is not valid.

(D) A complaint for a determination of the validity of a settlor's trust shall be accompanied by an express written waiver of the settlor's physician-patient privilege provided in division (B) of section 2317.02 of the Revised Code.



Added by 132nd General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 595, §1, eff. 3/22/2019.

5817.04 Jurisdiction; venue.

(A) A complaint to determine the validity of a will or a trust shall be filed with the probate court. The probate judge, upon the motion of a party or the judge's own motion, may transfer the proceeding to the general division of the court of common pleas.

(B) The venue for a complaint under section 5817.02 of the Revised Code is either of the following:

(1) The probate court of the county in this state where the testator is domiciled;

(2) If the testator is not domiciled in this state, the probate court of any county in this state where any real property or personal property of the testator is located or, if there is no such property, the probate court of any county in this state.

(C) The venue for a complaint under section 5817.03 of the Revised Code is either of the following:

(1) The probate court of the county in this state where the settlor resides or is domiciled;

(2) If the settlor does not reside or is not domiciled in this state, the probate court of the county in this state in which the trust's principal place of administration is located.



Added by 132nd General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 595, §1, eff. 3/22/2019.

5817.05 Testator complaint; party defendants.

(A) A complaint under section 5817.02 of the Revised Code shall name as party defendants all of the following, as applicable:

(1) The testator's spouse;

(2) The testator's children;

(3) The testator's heirs who would take property pursuant to section 2105.06 of the Revised Code had the testator died intestate at the time the complaint is filed;

(4) The testator's beneficiaries under the will;

(5) Any beneficiary under the testator's most recent prior will.

(B) A complaint under section 5817.02 of the Revised Code may name as a party defendant any other person that the testator believes may have a pecuniary interest in the determination of the validity of the testator's will.

(C) A complaint under section 5817.02 of the Revised Code may contain all or any of the following:

(1) A statement that a copy of the will has been filed with the court;

(2) A statement that the will is in writing;

(3) A statement that the will was signed by the testator, or was signed in the testator's name by another person in the testator's conscious presence and at the testator's express direction;

(4) A statement that the will was signed in the conscious presence of the testator by two or more competent individuals, each of whom either witnessed the testator sign the will, or heard the testator acknowledge signing the will;

(5) A statement that the will was executed with the testator's testamentary intent;

(6) A statement that the testator had testamentary capacity;

(7) A statement that the testator executed the will free from undue influence, not under restraint or duress, and in the exercise of the testator's free will;

(8) A statement that the execution of the will was not the result of fraud or mistake;

(9) The names and addresses of the testator and all of the defendants and, if any of the defendants are minors, their ages;

(10) A statement that the will has not been revoked or modified;

(11) A statement that the testator is familiar with the contents of the will.



Added by 132nd General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 595, §1, eff. 3/22/2019.

5817.06 Settlor complaint; party defendants.

(A) A complaint under section 5817.03 of the Revised Code shall name as party defendants the following, as applicable:

(1) The settlor's spouse;

(2) The settlor's children;

(3) The settlor's heirs who would take property pursuant to section 2105.06 of the Revised Code had the settlor died intestate at the time the complaint is filed;

(4) The trustee or trustees under the trust;

(5) The beneficiaries under the trust;

(6) If the trust amends, amends and restates, or replaces a prior trust, any beneficiary under the settlor's most recent prior trust.

(B) A complaint under section 5817.03 of the Revised Code may name as a party defendant any other person that the settlor believes may have a pecuniary interest in the determination of the validity of the settlor's trust.

(C) A complaint under section 5817.03 of the Revised Code may contain all or any of the following:

(1) A statement that a copy of the trust has been filed with the court;

(2) A statement that the trust is in writing and was signed by the settlor;

(3) A statement that the trust was executed with the intent to create a trust;

(4) A statement that the settlor had the legal capacity to enter into and establish the trust;

(5) A statement that the trust has a definite beneficiary or is one of the following:

(a) A charitable trust;

(b) A trust for the care of an animal as provided in section 5804.08 of the Revised Code;

(c) A trust for a noncharitable purpose as provided in section 5804.09 of the Revised Code.

(6) A statement that the trustee of the trust has duties to perform;

(7) A statement that the same person is not the sole trustee and sole beneficiary of the trust;

(8) A statement that the settlor executed the trust free from undue influence, not under restraint or duress, and in the exercise of the settlor's free will;

(9) A statement that execution of the trust was not the result of fraud or mistake;

(10) The names and addresses of the settlor and all of the defendants and, if any of the defendants are minors, their ages;

(11) A statement that the trust has not been revoked or modified;

(12) A statement that the settlor is familiar with the contents of the trust.



Added by 132nd General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 595, §1, eff. 3/22/2019.

5817.07 Service of process.

(A) Service of process, with a copy of the complaint and the will, and a copy of the related trust, if applicable, shall be made on every party defendant named in the complaint filed under section 5817.02 of the Revised Code, as provided in the applicable Rules of Civil Procedure.

(B) Service of process, with a copy of the complaint and the trust, and a copy of the related will, if applicable, shall be made on every party defendant named in the complaint filed under section 5817.03 of the Revised Code, as provided in the applicable Rules of Civil Procedure.



Added by 132nd General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 595, §1, eff. 3/22/2019.

5817.08 Hearing.

(A) After a complaint is filed under section 5817.02 or 5817.03 of the Revised Code, the court shall fix a time and place for a hearing.

(B) Notice of the hearing shall be given to the testator or settlor, as applicable, and to all party defendants, as provided in the applicable Rules of Civil Procedure.

(C) The hearing shall be adversarial in nature and shall be conducted pursuant to sections 2101.31 and 2721.10 of the Revised Code, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.



Added by 132nd General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 595, §1, eff. 3/22/2019.

5817.09 Burden of proof.

(A) The testator or settlor has the burden of establishing prima facie proof of the execution of the will or trust, as applicable. A person who opposes the complaint has the burden of establishing one or more of the following:

(1) The lack of testamentary intent or the intent to create a trust, as the case may be;

(2) The lack of the testator's testamentary capacity, or the settlor's legal capacity to enter into and establish the trust;

(3) Undue influence, restraint, or duress on the testator or settlor;

(4) Fraud or mistake in the execution of the will or trust;

(5) Revocation of the will or trust.

(B) A party to the proceeding has the ultimate burden of persuasion as to the matters for which the party has the initial burden of proof.



Added by 132nd General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 595, §1, eff. 3/22/2019.

5817.10 Declaration of validity.

(A)

(1) The court shall declare the will valid if it finds all of the following:

(a) The will was properly executed pursuant to section 2107.03 of the Revised Code or under any prior law of this state that was in effect at the time of execution.

(b) The testator had the requisite testamentary capacity, was free from undue influence, and was not under restraint or duress.

(c) The execution of the will was not the result of fraud or mistake.

(2) After the testator's death, unless the will is modified or revoked after the court's declaration under division (A)(1) of this section, the will has full legal effect as the instrument of the disposition of the testator's estate and shall be admitted to probate upon request.

(B)

(1) The court shall declare the trust valid if it finds all of the following:

(a) The trust meets the requirements of section 5804.02 of the Revised Code.

(b) The settlor had the legal capacity to enter into and establish the trust, was free from undue influence, and was not under restraint or duress.

(c) The execution of the trust was not the result of fraud or mistake.

(2) Unless the trust is modified or revoked after the court's declaration, the trust has full legal effect.

(C) The court may, if it finds the will or trust to be valid, attach a copy of the valid document to the court's judgment entry, but failure to do so shall not affect the determination of validity of the will or trust.



Added by 132nd General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 595, §1, eff. 3/22/2019.

5817.11 Effect of declaration.

(A) Unless the will or trust is modified or revoked, and except as otherwise provided in this section, no person may contest the validity of a will or trust that is declared valid in a proceeding pursuant to this chapter.

(B) The failure to name a necessary defendant under division (A) of section 5817.05 of the Revised Code is not jurisdictional. A declaration of a will's validity under this chapter shall be binding upon all defendants who were named or represented, and properly served pursuant to division (A) of section 5817.07 of the Revised Code, notwithstanding the failure to name a necessary defendant. However, if a person is one who should have been named a party defendant in the action in which the will was declared valid and if the person was not named a defendant and properly served in that action, that person, after the testator's death, may contest the validity of a will declared valid.

(C) The failure to name a necessary defendant under division (A) of section 5817.06 of the Revised Code is not jurisdictional. A declaration of a trust's validity under this chapter shall be binding upon all defendants who were named or represented, and properly served pursuant to division (B) of section 5817.07 of the Revised Code, notwithstanding the failure to name a necessary defendant. However, if a person is one who should have been named a party defendant in the action in which the trust was declared valid and if the person was not named a defendant and properly served in that action, that person may contest the validity of a trust declared valid.

(D) In determining whether a person was a party defendant and properly served in an action to declare a will or trust valid under this chapter, the representation rules of Chapter 5803. of the Revised Code shall be applied, and a person represented in the action under those rules is bound by the declaration of validity even if, by the time of the testator's death, or the challenge to the trust, the representing person has died or would no longer be able to represent the person to be represented in the proceeding under this chapter.



Added by 132nd General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 595, §1, eff. 3/22/2019.

5817.12 Subsequent modification of will.

(A) After a declaration of a will's validity under division (A)(1) of section 5817.10 of the Revised Code, the will may be modified by a later will or codicil executed according to the laws of this state or another state, and the will may be revoked under section 2107.33 of the Revised Code or other applicable law.

(B) The revocation by a later will, or other document under section 2107.33 of the Revised Code, of a will that has been declared valid under division (A)(1) of section 5817.10 of the Revised Code does not affect the will or the prior declaration of its validity if the later will or other document is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid due to the testator's lack of testamentary capacity, or undue influence, restraint, or duress on the testator, or otherwise.

(C) The amendment by a later codicil of a will that has been declared valid under division (A)(1) of section 5817.10 of the Revised Code does not affect the will or the prior declaration of its validity except as provided by the codicil. However, the codicil is not considered validated under this chapter unless its validity is also declared as provided in this chapter.



Added by 132nd General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 595, §1, eff. 3/22/2019.

5817.13 Subsequent modification of trust.

(A) After a declaration of a trust's validity under division (B)(1) of section 5817.10 of the Revised Code, the trust may be modified, terminated, revoked, or reformed under sections 5804.10 to 5804.16 of the Revised Code, or other applicable law.

(B) The modification, termination, revocation, or reformation by a new trust or other document of a trust that has been declared valid under division (B)(1) of section 5817.10 of the Revised Code does not affect the trust or the prior declaration of its validity if the later trust or other document is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid due to the settlor's lack of capacity, or undue influence, restraint, or duress on the settlor, or otherwise.

(C) An amendment of a trust that has been declared valid under division (B)(1) of section 5817.10 of the Revised Code does not affect the trust or the prior declaration of its validity except as provided by the amendment. However, the amendment is not considered validated under this chapter unless its validity is also declared as provided in this chapter.



Added by 132nd General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 595, §1, eff. 3/22/2019.

5817.14 .

(A) The finding of facts by a court in a proceeding brought under this chapter is not admissible as evidence in any proceeding other than a proceeding brought to determine the validity of a will or trust.

(B) The determination or judgment rendered in a proceeding under this chapter is not binding upon the parties to that proceeding in any action that is not brought to determine the validity of a will or trust.

(C) The failure of a testator to file a complaint for a judgment declaring the validity of a will that the testator has executed is not admissible as evidence in any proceeding to determine the validity of that will or any other will executed by the testator.

(D) The failure of a settlor to file a complaint for a judgment declaring the validity of a trust that the settlor has executed is not admissible as evidence in any proceeding to determine the validity of that trust or any other trust executed by the settlor.



Added by 132nd General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 595, §1, eff. 3/22/2019.