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What is a Trust Contest Iowa Trust Contests Explained

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
December 10, 2019

In this article, we answer the question, “What is a trust contest in Iowa?” We answer:

  • What is a trust?
  • What is a trust contest in Iowa?
  • Who can contest a trust in Iowa?
  • What are the legal grounds to contest a trust in Iowa?
  • How to contest a trust in Iowa
  • No-contest clauses in Iowa trusts

What Is a Trust?

A trust in Iowa is both a document and a legal entity. A trust can be arranged in many ways, but its main purpose is to allow a third party, or trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary. It is written and signed by the trustor, and can go into effect while the trustor is still living or when they die, depending on the trust type.

What Is a Trust Contest in Iowa?

A trust contest is a type of lawsuit that is filed to object a trust’s validity. If someone believes the trustor was mentally incapacitated, unduly influenced, or otherwise unable to comprehend the terms of a trust, they have the right to contest the document in Iowa.

Who Can Contest a Trust in Iowa?

Only people with a legal “standing” can contest a trust in Iowa. This means they stand to be personally affected by the outcome of the lawsuit. This could include disinherited or disadvantaged beneficiaries or disinherited or disadvantaged heirs at law who stand to inherit more if a trust is deemed invalid by the courts.

What Are the Legal Grounds to Contest a Trust in Iowa?

The following are all legal grounds to contest a trust in Iowa:

  • Trust legally invalid — Trust not signed in front of a notary
  • Trustor lacked capacity — Trustor did not understand their assets, family relationships, and legal effect of signing a trust
  • Trustor unduly influenced — Trustor was pressured to change terms of trust
  • Trust procured by fraud — Trustor believed they were signing a different type of document or a trust with different provisions

How to Contest a Trust in Iowa

Contesting a trust in Iowa is similar to contesting a will but with one major difference. Where as a will can only be challenged once its owner has passed away, a trust can be contested whether the trustor is living or deceased.

To begin the process of contesting a trust in Iowa, the interested party(ies) must file the lawsuit in the court that has jurisdiction over the trust. The plaintiff will be required to file a petition stating why a trust should be deemed invalid.

The court will consider witness statements and testimonies. If the plaintiff can prove any of the aforementioned legal grounds for contesting a trust, the document is likely to be deemed invalid.

No-Contest Clauses in Iowa Trusts

A no-contest clause can be added to an Iowa trust. Despite its name, this provision does not prevent trusts from being contested, but rather discourages such actions. 

Should someone contest a trust but lose in court, a no-contest clause will void them of any benefits. This prevents beneficiaries and heirs from contesting a trust who may have ill intent or are simply dissatisfied with the terms.

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