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Improper Undue Influence Jury Charge Leads To New Trial

March 6, 2013

Authors

Luke Lantta

Improper Undue Influence Jury Charge Leads To New Trial

March 6, 2013

by: Luke Lantta

Many fiduciary litigation concepts, like undue influence, lack of capacity, or breach of fiduciary duty, can be difficult for the lay people of a jury to understand.  For lay people, sometimes the actual law doesn’t always match up to what they may think is right or wrong.  So, when a case actually ends up going to the jury, the temptation for the lawyers litigating it may be to try to drive some last points home through the jury charges by repeating the law several times.

In Burkhalter v. Burkhalter, however, after a jury returned a verdict vindicating an alleged undue influencer, the Court of Appeals of Iowa granted a new trial on the claims because of a faulty jury charge regarding undue influence.  The appellate court found that the charge was either unduly repetitive and therefore faulty or through its

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Iowa Weighs In On Fiduciary Duty To Account To Beneficiaries Of Revocable Trusts

February 4, 2013

Authors

Luke Lantta

Iowa Weighs In On Fiduciary Duty To Account To Beneficiaries Of Revocable Trusts

February 4, 2013

by: Luke Lantta

There is a surprising but growing split of authority on the extent of fiduciary duties a trustee owes to beneficiaries of a revocable trust other than the settlor.  Remarkably, state appellate courts are dealing with these issues for the first time now.  We previously took a look at this issue when a Missouri appellate court ruled in In re Stephen M. Gunther Revocable Living Trust that “[b]ecause the trustee owed no duty to the beneficiaries prior to the settlor’s death, they are not entitled to an accounting of trust transactions prior to that date.”  In ruling this way, Missouri joined other states, such as Louisiana, in reaching this conclusion.  We also looked at an Arizona appellate court apply Michigan law to reach the same conclusion.  Seemed to make sense.

But, in late 2012, a closely

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Iowa Spendthrift Clause Prohibited Transfer Of Right To Future Payments From Trust

August 1, 2012

Authors

Luke Lantta

Iowa Spendthrift Clause Prohibited Transfer Of Right To Future Payments From Trust

August 1, 2012

by: Luke Lantta

It’s been a while since we last looked at spendthrift clauses in trusts.  If drafted correctly, they can be an effective tool for shielding assets.  Of course, if a beneficiary knows he or she is an actual or contingent remainder beneficiary of a trust, then it usually helps for that beneficiary to actually know whether a spendthrift clause exists.

In Estate of Hord, the Court of Appeals of Iowa had occasion to consider the enforceability and scope of the spendthrift clause in Carl Hord’s will.  Let’s take a look at what the clause said:

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Iowa Conservator Not Liable For Failing To Obtain Prior Court Approval Of Investments

September 28, 2011

Authors

Luke Lantta

Iowa Conservator Not Liable For Failing To Obtain Prior Court Approval Of Investments

September 28, 2011

by: Luke Lantta

Iowa’s Code contains strict limitations on what acts a conservator can take without prior court approval.  For example, Iowa Code section 633.647 provides that “[c]onservators shall have the following powers subject to the approval of the court after hearing on such notice, if any, as the court may prescribe: . . . [t]o invest the funds belonging to the ward.”  (Emphasis added.)

On their face, these limitations seem like a lot of unnecessary hassle, increase the fees and expenses of conservatorships, and potentially cause the conservatorship estate to miss out on financial opportunities.  On the other hand, the statutory limitations would also seem to protect conservators who get the court’s blessing before taking any acts that might jeopardize the ward’s assets.

In In the Matter of the Conservatorship of Rose V. Alessio, the Iowa Supreme Court answered the question of what happens to a conservator who fails to get court approval before investing a

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Fiduciary Litigator’s Overzealous Representation Leads to Sanctions

August 24, 2011

Authors

Luke Lantta

Fiduciary Litigator’s Overzealous Representation Leads to Sanctions

August 24, 2011

by: Luke Lantta

Litigators can often have a hard time backing down from the zealous representation of their clients.  This is particularly true when someone of diminished capacity is exploited and when still others are aware of the exploitation and either let it happen or facilitate it.  A fiduciary litigator in Iowa recently learned the hard way that, while it might be okay to sue based on suspicions, as soon as you learn that the facts don’t back up your suspicions, you better dismiss the lawsuit.

In Rowedder v. Anderson the Iowa Court of Appeals had it all – incapacitated executors, shady real estate deals, sanctions, a jury trial . . .

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