Stischok v. Stischok

Franklin County Probate Court; Tenth Appellate District

Palmer defends beneficiary of will in will contest caused by testator's lawyer's improper execution of will.

Andy Stischok and Dorothy Mingus had been married to others for over fifty years, but each of those spouses had died by 1995. Andy and Dorothy met through church. Their friendship developed into a close, loving relationship, and they spent nearly everyday together. Dorothy cared for Andy when he became sick with his last illness. Although they never married, the last thing Andy said to Dorothy was "I love you." Andy had made Dorothy his residual beneficiary under numerous, successive wills. His attorney, who drafted each of these wills, however, failed to execute the wills properly under Ohio law since only he signed as a witness in the presence of Andy when he executed the will. His wife signed as a "witness" later at her home. Andy had no children. However, Andy's nephew, who was not included in the will, filed a will contest action to prevent Dorothy Mingus from receiving the residual estate, which turned out to be valued at about $1,000,000. The will contest was settled on the eve of trial with Dorothy Mingus receiving 65% of the value of the estate. Mingus filed a legal malpractice claim against Andy's attorney.