IN THE MATTER OF THE SIEVERS FAMILY REVOCABLE TRUST DATED JULY 17, 2002, LINDA BARGER Beneficiary-Appellant,
from the Iowa District Court for Jones County, Kevin
Barger appeals the district court's ruling declining to
invoke jurisdiction and intervene in her parents'
trust's internal matters pursuant to Iowa Code section
633A.6202 (2013). AFFIRMED.
J. Thorson of Ackley, Kopecky & Kingery, L.L.P., Cedar
Rapids, for appellant.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.
Barger is the youngest of four girls born to John and Lucille
Sievers. Her sisters are JoAnne Ricklefs, Constance Sue
Carson, and Francis K. Aldershof. In 2002, the Sievers set up
a revocable trust, placing all of their wealth, possessions,
and investments in the trust. Linda and her sisters were the
beneficiaries of the trust, and all four sisters were
initially named successor co-trustees. However, Linda was
removed as a successor co-trustee after she and her father
had a falling out in 2006.
and Lucille experienced some health issues and moved to a
residential-care center in late 2007. JoAnne, who had been
granted power of attorney by and for her parents in 2003,
began assisting her parents with their finances, writing
checks for expenses at her father's direction. John
passed away in 2010, and Lucille in 2014.
Lucille died, Linda filed a "petition concerning
internal affairs of trust" in district court requesting
the court take jurisdiction of the trust and conduct
proceedings related to the trust's affairs pursuant to
Iowa Code section 633A.6202 (2013). She asserted her sisters
had "acted as powers of attorney for [Lucille], "
necessitating court intervention to "[d]etermine the
existence of any immunity, power, privilege, duty, or right
of the successor trustee(s) to make distributions to
themselves or others during the lifetime of the surviving
grantor, " among other things. After Lucille's
death, Linda filed her claim in trust, modifying the language
slightly from her original petition, but basically asserting
the same allegations and reasons for intervention.
matter proceeded to trial in 2016. Thereafter, the court
entered its ruling determining it would not intervene in the
trust's internal affairs because it found "nothing
to indicate that any duty owed to the beneficiaries of the
Sievers family trust was breached." The court explained:
The exhibits and witness testimony do not convince the court
that there has been a breach of the trust. [Linda] certainly
has her suspicions regarding the activities of her sisters,
especially during the years between 2007 and 2014. However,
these suspicions do not amount to a showing that there has
been any misappropriation of trust funds or any hiding or
dissipation of trust funds. The strongest evidence that was
presented regarding the possible hiding of trust funds was a
conversation that took place months ago regarding an $80, 000
account outside of Edward Jones. The only person who
testified to this was [Linda]. No witness, document or
exhibit corroborated the existence of such an account.
. . . .
There was a great deal of testimony presented regarding
Lucille's mental state during the last years of her life.
[Linda] alleges that during the last few years of
[Lucille's] life, [Lucille] was not in control of the . .
. trust but two of [Linda's sisters] were actually in
control of the . . . trust account. The court is not
convinced of this fact. However, even if this fact is true,
there has been no evidence that this led to a breach of any
duty owed to the beneficiaries of the trust.
[Linda] asserts that some of the money distributed from the
trust and some of the transactions engaged in by the trust in
2006 and 2007 were questionable. Particularly, the purchase
of a condo and payments to [her sister JoAnne]. The court has
reviewed the testimony regarding these transactions and
payments and has reviewed the exhibits presented and finds
nothing overtly suspicious about them.
now appeals the district court's ruling. She contends the
district court should have intervened in the trust's
internal matters. She argues her sisters acted as trustees
before Lucille's death to the sisters' gain and
Linda's detriment. She claims she was denied information
concerning the trust and her parents' other financial
accounts by her sisters, who had control and access of the
accounts. She insists her sister told her there was an
account with a balance of $80, 000, and she believes her
father owned several certificates of deposit (CDs) that must
"still exist ...