Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Estate of Speck

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 15, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF DONALD G. SPECK, Deceased.
v.
MARK D. FARGO, Petitioner-Appellee. LISA M. SPECK, MATTHEW D. SPECK, TODD M. SPECK, JEREMY J. SPECK, and NICHOLAS A. SPECK, Intervenors-Appellants,

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Warren County, Patrick W. Greenwood, Judge.

         Testator's children appeal a district court order granting a petition to probate a lost will.

          Andrew B. Howie of Shindler, Anderson, Goplerud & Weese, PC, West Des Moines, for appellants.

          Matthew D. Gardner of Gardner Law Firm, PC, Urbandale, and John D. Hartung of Hartung & Schroeder, Des Moines, for appellee.

          Heard by Danilson, C.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ.

          MULLINS, Judge.

         The children of Donald Speck (Don) appeal a district court order granting a petition to probate a lost will filed by Donald's ex-son-in-law, Mark Fargo, under which Mark was a beneficiary and co-executor and the majority of Donald's children were disinherited. The children argue the presumption of revocation was not rebutted by clear, satisfactory, and convincing evidence. They also assert the court erroneously shifted the burden of proof to them.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Don and his ex-wife, Margo, had five children: Matthew, Todd, Jeremy, Nicholas, and Lisa. The negative nature of the dissolution of Don and Margo's marriage, Don's perception that the children favored Margo, and Margo's remarriage to Don's friend led to varying degrees of hostility and alienation between Don and his children for many years.

         Don executed a will on August 15, 2012 with the assistance of his long-time attorney Robert Thomson. The will left fifty percent of the residue of Don's estate to his son, Jeremy, and fifty percent to his then son-in-law, Mark, and named both as co-executors of the estate. The will also expressly disinherited Don's other four children. Thomson retained a copy of the will, gave the original to Don, and advised him to keep it in a safe place. Don was known to use a filing cabinet in his house to keep important documents. On the same day, Don also executed a durable general power of attorney and a power of attorney for healthcare decisions, naming Mark and Jeremy as attorneys-in-fact. Soon after, Don met with Mark and Jeremy to reveal he had written a will and put both of them in charge of it. He told them the will would anger the rest of the family but did not produce a copy or explain the specifics of the will. Don also asked Mark and Jeremy to not reveal this conversation to anyone, including their spouses.

         At the time the will was executed, Mark was married to Don's daughter, Lisa, and had known Don and the family since childhood. In September 2014, Mark petitioned for a dissolution of their marriage.[1] During the time of the dissolution proceedings, Mark continued to talk with Don and met him at a car show. Mark had keys to and stored a car in Don's garage. Don and Mark also worked on a sewer project at Don's home until Don's stroke.

         On December 3, 2015, Don suffered a catastrophic stroke. He was hospitalized and ultimately died on December 16. Don's son Matthew moved into Don's home during his hospitalization and remained there after his death based upon the recommendation that someone be present at the house in order to protect the house and other assets and handle any issues with Don's tenant.

         On December 28, Don's son Jeremy met with Thomson alone to discuss the estate and its assets as well as the process going forward. Thomson showed Jeremy a copy of the will in his possession and informed Jeremy to look for the original of that copy. On December 31, Thomson met with Don's children and Mark to review the terms of the will. Before this meeting, Jeremy met with his siblings and informed them that the contents of the will could frustrate them, but he did not explain the specifics of his siblings' disinheritance. At the December 31 meeting, after discovering that Mark was to receive fifty percent of the estate, two of Don's children asked Mark to decline and waive his rights under the will. Mark refused. When Thomson asked Jeremy if he had found the original will yet, Jeremy answered he had not looked for it yet.

         Jeremy and Matthew subsequently conducted a search of Don's home. Lisa was present during the search. All three testified they did not find Don's original will. However, they found a life insurance policy worth ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.