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Case No. 20-0137

For summaries from opinions prior to August, 2018, view PDF versions here

Ronald Laine King, Lillie Lorraine Jackson, and Mona Ray Bennett
Ward Elwyn Smith and Carolyn Stanley


Ronald Laine King, Lillie Lorraine Jackson, and Mona Ray Bennett


Ward Elwyn Smith and Carolyn Stanley

Attorney for the Appellee

Edward E. Cox

Attorney for the Appellant

R.E. Breckenridge

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
Date Published:
Jun 16, 2021

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Davis County, Shawn R. Showers, Judge.  AFFIRMED IN PART AND REVERSED IN PART.  Heard by May, P.J., and Greer and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J.  (16 pages)

            The plaintiffs brought the underlying suit, seeking to partition the family farmland as conveyed by their grandparents, Charley and Lillie Smith, in 1974.  Relying on later deeds executed by Lillie Smith that left out the plaintiffs’ mother from inheriting the property, the defendants denied the plaintiffs had any interest in the farmland and asked the court to quiet title in their names.  The district court granted the plaintiffs’ petition for partition, finding only the 1974 deed was valid and the language of that deed established a life estate in Lillie Smith, which limited her ability to later divest the plaintiffs’ mother of her interest.  For the same reasons, it denied the defendants’ request to quiet title in their names.  On appeal, the defendants argue the intention of the grantor should control and we should recognize the conveyances even if their use has not been authorized in Iowa.  OPINION HOLDS: While we agree with the district court that the 1974, 2006, and 2010 deeds were attempted transfer-on-death deeds, because such a deed is not authorized under Iowa law, we find the deeds void.  Because void deeds are unenforceable and Lillie Smith died intestate, the property must pass through the estate of Lillie Smith. 

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