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Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article, we answer, “What are some legal grounds for trust contests in Iowa?” Our Iowa trust attorneys will explain reasons for trust contests in Iowa, including:

  • Invalid trusts in Iowa
  • Testamentary capacity and trusts in Iowa
  • Undue influence and trusts in Iowa
  • Fraudulent trusts in Iowa

To learn more about how to contest a trust in Iowa, read our article on How to Contest a Trust in Iowa.

Invalid Trusts in Iowa

A trust that is deemed invalid can be successfully contested in Iowa. Senate File 112 amended the requirements for certifications of trusts in Iowa and went into effect July 1, 2019. For a trust to be validated in Iowa, it must:

  • Be signed by either the attorney of an acting trustee or the current trustee
  • State that the terms of the trust have not been modified, amended, or revoked in any fashion that would result in an incorrect certification of the trust
  • Be sworn and subscribed before a notary public under penalty of perjury

A trust in Iowa must also be created for a valid or lawful purpose. A trust created to hide or shield funds from creditors is not a valid trust. Neither is a trust against public policy.

Testamentary Capacity and Trusts in Iowa

For a trust to be valid in Iowa, it must be made by a trustor who has testamentary capacity, or is of sound mind with full comprehension of their actions. A trust can be successfully contested if the trustor’s mental state at the time the trust was drafted or signed is in question. This ground to contest a trust in Iowa is common in cases where the decedent suffered from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

When evaluating for testamentary capacity, the following questions, and their answers, are taken into consideration.

  • Did the trustor know the extent of their property distributed in the trust?
  • Was the trustor aware of their dependents and who would benefit from the trust?
  • Did the trustor understand the nature of a trust and what they were creating?

If a claimant can prove a trustor was unaware of any of the required information, they may be able to have a trust invalidated in Iowa.

Undue influence and trusts in Iowa

Undue influence is another common ground for disputing a trust in Iowa. Undue influence is defined as excessive persuasion that causes a trustor to act out of character or refrain from exercising their free will.

For example, if a child of a trustor believed they deserved more assets than their siblings, they could persuade their parent to adjust the terms of their trust through verbal or physical force. If a trustor is incapacitated, ill, disabled, elderly, isolated, or dependent on the ill-intended beneficiary, they are more likely to fall victim to undue influence.

If a trust is deemed invalid in Iowa because of undue influence, the previous trust (if applicable) goes into effect.

Fraudulent Trusts in Iowa

Our final ground for contesting a trust in Iowa is fraudulence. If a trustor believed they were signing a document other than a trust or were signing a trust with different provisions than what the document in question contained, the trust can be deemed invalid.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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