Watts v. Watts

38 Ohio St. 480 (1882)



It is settled, that the years' allowance to a widow and minor children, is a debt of the estate and that a widow, electing to take under a will containing provisions for her, expressed to be in lieu of dower and all other claims against the estate, is not barred of her years' support provided by law out of the estate. As a debt, it has a preference over all others, except funeral expenses, those of the last sickness, and expenses of administration.


A testator left a valid will that gave plaintiff in error widow his land and his children certain personalty. The testator gave the residue of his personal and real property to plaintiff to pay his debts and for the good of the family until the youngest child became 15. When that occurred, the personalty was to be equally divided among his children.  Plaintiff was appointed executrix and took under the will. Plaintiff filed an inventory of all personal property with the probate court. Thirteen years after the testator's death, plaintiff filed a partial accounting and credited herself with taxes and debts and interest. Defendant in error sons objected to the accounting, but the probate court overruled the objections. On appeal, the trial court overruled the objections and approved the accounting. On further appeal, the district court ruled that plaintiff was bound to pay the debts and charges of the estate, including the legacies. Plaintiff sought review of the district court’s decision. The state supreme court reversed the judgments by the trial and district courts and remanded.


Was plaintiff in error widow required to pay the debts or legacies of the estate?




Plaintiff, in taking under the will, was not bound to pay the debts or legacies of the estate and plaintiff must account only for the rents and profits and personalty that were not used by plaintiff for the good of the family.

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