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In re Estate of Heemstra

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 6, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF ELEANOR HEEMSTRA, Deceased, Appellee, RODNEY HEEMSTRA, DEANNA JAMES, and MARCIE WILKINSON, Appellants.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Warren County, Richard B. Clogg, Judge.

         Relatives of Eleanor Heemstra appeal the order approving the final report of the executor of her estate. AFFIRMED.

          Rodney Heemstra, Urbandale, pro se appellant.

          Deanna James, Bettendorf, pro se appellant.

          Marcie Wilkinson, Jacksonville, Florida, pro se appellant.

          R. Bradley Skinner of Skinner Law Office, P.C., Altoona, for appellee.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and McDonald, JJ.

          DOYLE, Judge.

         Relatives of Eleanor Heemstra appeal the order approving the final report of the executor of her estate. They contend the probate court erred in denying various motions and approving the report. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         Eleanor was married to John, who died in 1995. The couple had no children. John's will bequeathed certain real estate to Eleanor for life with the remainder interest shared equally between his siblings: Neil Heemstra, Ramona Butler, and Merrill Heemstra. His will also made certain cash bequests, which Eleanor, as executor of his estate, paid. John bequeathed his remaining property to Eleanor.

         On May 10, 2006, Eleanor created a revocable living trust. The trust required that upon Eleanor's death, the trustee distribute sums of cash to certain named beneficiaries. It then required that the trustee divide the remaining trust property into separate shares and distribute those shares to a list of seventeen named beneficiaries or their descendants, per stirpes.[1] On the same day that Eleanor executed the trust document, she executed her last will and testament, which provides that the residue of her estate is to go to the acting trustee of the Eleanor Heemstra Trust for distribution in accordance with the terms of the trust.

         Eleanor died in December 2014. At the time of her death, only one of her husband's siblings, Ramona Butler, survived. The petition to probate Eleanor's estate was filed, and Ramona was appointed executor of Eleanor's estate. She also served as trustee of the Eleanor Heemstra Trust.

         The executor's final report was filed on August 30, 2016. Among those challenging it were the appellants: Rodney Heemstra and Marcie Wilkinson, children of Eleanor's deceased brother-in-law, Neil, and Deanna James, daughter of Eleanor's deceased brother. On October 21, 2016, the probate court held a hearing on the executor's final report, as well as the various motions filed by the above-named family members. None of those family members appeared at the hearing. The district court denied all pending motions and approved the executor's final report in an order filed the same day. Rodney Heemstra, Marcie Wilkinson, and Deanna James appeal.

         II. Scope and ...


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