IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF LAVERNE E. WORKMAN, Deceased,
GARY WORKMAN, Individually and as Executor of the Estate of LaVerne E. Workman, Defendant-Appellee, DENNIS WORKMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant, CYNTHIA NOGGLE, RANDY NOGGLE, JASON WORKMAN, CHRISTINE THOMPSON, and JEFFREY WORKMAN, Defendants.
from the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, Thomas G.
Workman appeals the revocation of his shares in his
E. Johnson of Cutler Law Firm, PC, West Des Moines, for
P. Kresowik of Stanley, Lande & Hunter, PC, Davenport,
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Tabor,
Workman challenged his parents' estate plans in several
actions. See In re Estate of Workman, 903 N.W.2d
170, 172-75 (Iowa 2017) (affirming district court's
denial of Dennis' motion to expand his undue-influence
claim to include prior wills and codicils executed by his
mother); Workman v. Iowa Dist. Ct., No. 17-1038,
2018 WL 3302361, at *4 (Iowa Ct. App. July 5, 2018)
(sustaining challenge to issuance of bench warrant following
revocation of Dennis' shares in a family trust); In
re Estate of Workman, No. 16-0908, 2017 WL 706342, at *1
(Iowa Ct. App. Feb. 22, 2017) (affirming revocation of
Dennis' shares in his mother's estate). This appeal
raises the identical issues as the issues raised in No.
16-0908, except that they relate to the will of Dennis'
father rather than his mother.
underlying facts are well documented in the prior opinions,
and we find no reason to set forth a detailed account here.
Suffice it to say that the 2001 will of Dennis' father
LaVerne, like the will of his mother, contained the following
"no- contest" provision:
If any beneficiary under this will in any manner, directly or
indirectly, contests the validity of this instrument, or any
disposition under this will, or any other trust created by
me, by filing suit against my executor, the trustees under
any trust, any share or interest given to such beneficiary
under the provisions of this will is revoked and shall be
disposed of in the same manner provided under this will as if
that contesting beneficiary and all descendants of that
beneficiary had predeceased me.
See Workman, 2017 WL 706342, at *1.
LaVerne's death, Dennis Workman filed a petition to set
aside the 2001 will based on lack of testamentary capacity
and undue influence on the part of Dennis' brother Gary.
Dennis named his minor son as an interested party. Dennis
later dismissed his claims without prejudice. Following the
dismissal, Gary filed a motion to revoke Dennis' shares
and interest, citing the no-contest provision of the will.
The district court granted the motion after an evidentiary
hearing. On appeal, Dennis argues the district court should
not have enforced the "no-contest" provision
because he acted with probable cause and in good faith in
filing the will-contest action.
Revocation of Dennis' Interest
prior opinion in No.16-0908 contains a detailed discussion of
the law governing no-contest provisions. See id. at
*1-3. Of key import is the following sentence: "[O]ur
common law holds [that no-contest] provisions 'will not
be enforced against one who contests the will in good faith
and for probable cause.'" Id. at *2
(emphasis omitted) (quoting In re Estate of Cocklin,
17 N.W.2d 129, 135 (Iowa 1945) and citing Geisinger v.
Geisinger, 41 N.W.2d 86, 93 (Iowa 1950)). The good faith
and probable cause standards overlap. Id.
Accordingly, they will be examined together.
begin with the testator's intent and his conduct in
furtherance of that intent. LaVerne, like his wife, included