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Joel Vos Wins Supreme Court Case Argued At Morningside College

July 10, 2013

On June 21, 2013, the Iowa Supreme Court issued its ruling In the Matter of the Estate of Lois L. Hord and In the Matter of the Carl R. Hord Trust.  Joel Vos, a partner with the Heidman Law Firm, argued the case before the Iowa Supreme Court in a special session held in Sioux City on March 12, 2013.  The Supreme Court decision affirmed the original District Court ruling in favor of the Firm's client.

The firm represented the Estate of Lois Hord and its executor, Larry Waugh.  In her will, Lois Hord had given her farmland to Larry Waugh, her longtime farm tenant.  She made this bequest because she had no children of her own, and because of the Waugh family's close relationship with her and care for her over many years.  The issue in the case was whether Lois Hord owned all of the farmland, or whether she only owned half of the farmland.  Her husband, Carl Hord, had owned an undivided half interest in the farmland prior to his death.  His will put his interest in the farmland into a trust for the benefit of Lois for her lifetime, with the remainder to a niece and five nephews.

 In 1993, the niece and nephews had executed quitclaim deeds and assignments of their trust interests back to Lois Hord, at her request, shortly after Carl's death.  In 2009, after her death, they filed suit to set aside the quitclaim deeds and assignments of their trust interests.  The niece and nephews claimed that their actions were void, and should be set aside by the Court, because they were in violation of a spendthrift clause in Carl Hord's testamentary trust.  As a result, they claimed that the deeds and assignments had no effect, and that half of the farmland remained in Carl's trust.  The niece and nephews asked that the half of the farmland  that had been in Carl Hord's trust be deeded to them as part of the winding up and termination of Carl Hord's trust.

The Iowa Supreme Court rejected this argument because the niece and nephews had not acted to set aside their deeds before the statute of limitations ran.  The Supreme Court held that the 10 year statute of limitations began to run in 1993 when the niece and nephews executed the quitclaim deeds, which were recorded in 1993.  Since the beneficiaries took no action for approximately 16 years, their claims were barred by the statute of limitations.  As a result, the Supreme Court determined that all of the farmland was owned by Lois Hord and passed to the beneficiary named in her will.

The Supreme Court opinion

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