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On June 12, 2020, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled on some crucial issues regarding deadlines to bring claims in estate cases. The following article will address will contests and tortious interference with inheritance claims in Iowa.
Will Contests in Iowa
To contest a will in Iowa, you must base your arguments on two grounds. First, lack of capacity, and second, undue influence. These claims must be brought at the later of 1) four months after the second publication of notice in the newspaper or 2) one month after the notice is mailed to the person. These rules create some urgency, making it essential not to wait a few months to determine your rights under the will and to hire an attorney to investigate and potentially contest a will. For more information on will contests, read our article Can Someone Not Named in a Will Contest It?
Tortious Interference with Inheritance in Iowa
In 1978, the Iowa Supreme Court established claims for intentional interference with inheritance, also known as tortious interference with inheritance, a separate claim from a will contest. The plaintiff missed the filing deadline to contest the will in this case. While it was after the contest period, the Iowa Supreme Court allowed the plaintiff to bring a new claim against the people who interfered with the plaintiff’s claim. Since then, these claims have often been brought at various points after the will contest period.
New Deadlines for Iowa Tortious Interference Claims
Following the June 2020 ruling, the Iowa Supreme Court reversed the 40+ year precedent, ruling that you must bring a claim for tortious interference during the will contest period and join with the undue influence claim. This places a severe time constraint on plaintiffs to determine what the will provides, determine if there was wrongdoing, retain legal counsel, and have counsel for an investigation to determine if a legal claim should be brought.
There are a couple of exceptions to this. First, if the claim is brought from some sort of wrongful action. If someone was forced to change the beneficiary of an insurance policy, and it was discovered after the fact, a case could still get brought as it is separate from the will contest claims.
While Iowa has made efforts to limit the ability to make these claims, they never the less should be considered in instances where you believe someone has interfered in a will. However, to bring a claim, you must act quickly, within weeks, to prevent losing your ability to make a claim.
If you have questions on inheritance claims in general or if you are looking for legal assistance, please do not hesitate to give O’Flaherty Law a call at 630-324-6666 to schedule an appointment to speak with on of our Iowa attorneys.
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