Recent Undue Influence Case in Iowa

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On August 3, 2022, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion In the Matter of the Estate of Sam Vernon Elsen, deceased, Michelle Lynn Davila, Plaintiff and Chad Michael Elsen, Plaintiff-Appellant, vs. Emily Jean Elsen-Cox, individually and as Trustee of the Sam Vernon Elsen Revocable Trust and Executor of the Estate of Sam Vernon Elsen, Defendant-Appellee. Sam Vernon Elsen was born in 1946. He was the father of three children, all with his first wife Marjorie. Sam adopted Michelle who was Marjorie’s daughter from a prior relationship. Emily and Chad were born out of the marriage of Sam and

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Creditor Has No Claim to Wrongful Death Claim Settlement

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On June 15, 2022, the Court of Appeals of Iowa issued an opinion in the matter of the Estate of Kevin L. Barz, Brad Staley and Susan Staley, Appellants (No. 21-0563). The case involves Kevin Barz and his spouse who both died in a motor vehicle accident. The Barz’s were survived by three children who were the co-executors of the estate. The co-executors filed a wrongful death action against the tortfeasor and his insurance company. A settlement was reached with the tortfeasor for $622,264.15. The settlement provided that it “was paid solely as compensation for the individual loss of consortium”.

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Iowa Court of Appeals Abatement Case

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On May 11, 2022, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion in the case of In the Matter of the Estate of Dennis R. Peterson, Deceased, Joseph Parcell, Appellant. The decedent Dennis Peterson executed a Will on August 27, 2018. The Will provided in part “I hereby give to Joe Parcell lifetime use of the 2nd and 3rd bays at 207 Collins Street… so long as he pays 35% of overhead”. The Will went on to give the residue of the estate to the decedent’s daughter, Donna Sue Peterson. The Will Appointed Donna Sue Peterson as the executor. Dennis

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Divorced Husband’s Failure to Remove Former Spouse as Beneficiary of Retirement Plan

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On April 13, 2022, the Iowa Court of Appeals entered its opinion in the case of University of Dubuque v. Sharon Fairchild and Robilyn G. Cowart (No. 21-0216). Richard Cowart was employed by the University of Dubuque beginning in January of 1998. His spouse at that time, Sharon Cowart, was named as his beneficiary on his TIAA and CREF Retirement Annuity Contracts. Richard and Sharon were divorced in June of 1998. In the divorce case, Sharon signed a stipulation providing that “I, Sharon Cowart, relinquish any claim to any savings accounts, securities, retirement fund, or inheritance due to or belonging

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Iowa Supreme Court Case on new Guardianship Act

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On January 14, 2022, the Iowa Supreme Court issued an Opinion in the Matter of the Guardianship of L.Y.  The case is the first interpretation of the new Guardianship Act which went into effect on January 1, 2020. The case involved young parents who consented to a temporary guardianship for the paternal grandparents to serve as guardians of their five-year-old daughter so that the daughter could be placed on the grandparents’ medical insurance and easily travel with them on vacation.  The guardianship was also to provide an opportunity for the parents to complete their divorce and to establish stable lives. 

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Apple Legacy Contact Designation

Apple Legacy Contact Designation

In the past it has been difficult to access a deceased individual’s iCloud account on death.  It has also been impossible to unlock a decedent’s iPhone without knowing their passcode. To solve this issue, Apple has begun a new contact legacy program allowing a person to designate up to five persons as legacy contacts.  The individuals named are allowed to access the data and personal information stored in the iCloud upon death.  The new program requires proof of death along with an access key.  The designation is available in the iOS 15.2 update.  You can find the new legacy contact

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Tortious-Interference-With-Inheritance Claim

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On June 11, 2021, the Iowa Supreme Court issued an opinion in the case of David Buboltz and Donna Reece, vs. Patricia Birusingh, Estate of Cletis C. Ireland, and Kumari Durick. Cletis Ireland died in March 2016 at age 92.  She was an only child, was never married, and had no children.  At the time of her death she owned a family century farm on which she had resided most of her life.  In 2001, the decedent executed a Will that divided her farm in equal shares to David Buboltz, a farmer who had cash rented eighty acres of the

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Conservator’s Authority to Enter into Farm Leases

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On May 21, 2021, the Iowa Supreme Court issued an opinion In The Matter and Conservatorship of Marvin M. Jorgensen, No. 18-1235 (Iowa Sup. Ct. May 21, 2021).  Marvin Jorgensen suffered a stroke in 2016 that left him unable to manage his nearly 18,000 acres of Iowa farmland.  Prior to the stroke, Marvin leased approximately half of his farmland to his children and to several grandchildren in “handshake” agreements that were never put in writing.  After the stroke, a Conservatorship was opened for Marvin and the Conservator entered into new written leases with family members which continued with Marvin’s practice

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Details on the Iowa Inheritance Tax Repeal

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In the past week, the Governor signed Senate File 619 which repeals the Iowa inheritance tax over the next five years.  Numerous attempts have been made over the past decade to eliminate or modify the Iowa inheritance tax.  Pursuant to the bill, for persons dying in the year 2021, the Iowa inheritance tax will be reduced by twenty percent.  For persons dying in the year 2022, the Iowa inheritance tax will be reduced by forty percent.  For persons dying in the year 2023, the Iowa inheritance tax will be reduced by sixty percent.  For persons dying in the year 2024,

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Iowa Court Finds Restraint On Alienation

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On April 30, 2021, the Iowa Supreme Court issued an opinion on In the Matter of the Estate of Vera E. Cawiezell, Deceased, Phyllis Knoche, Terry Brooks, and Jill Brooks, Appellants vs. Tom Coronelli and Beth Coronelli, Appellees.   Vera Cawiezell died testate in April 2018.  Her Will was admitted to probate.  In the Will the decedent devised approximately 150 acres of farm ground to her friends, Tom and Beth Coronelli, subject to certain general restrictions in favor of Terry Brooks, the Tenant, who farmed the ground during the decedent’s life.  Item 3 of the Will provided as follows: I hereby

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