IN THE MATTER OF THE LUELLA TAYLOR TRUST, and IN THE MATTER OF THE QUENTIN L. TAYLOR TRUST. STANLEY R. TAYLOR and GREGORY L. TAYLOR, Appellees.
from the Iowa District Court for O'Brien County, David A.
beneficiary appeals a district court order finding he no
longer had an option to purchase the farmland held in his
William K. Klinker of Smith, Grigg, Shea & Klinker, PC,
Primghar, for appellant Bradley D. Taylor.
S. Irvin of Corbett, Anderson, Corbett, Vellinga & Irvin,
LLP, Sioux City, for appellees.
by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
appeal involves a dispute among sibling-beneficiaries over
the interpretation of language in their parents'
irrevocable trusts directing the sale of farmland. Bradley
Taylor, the son who farmed, seeks to exercise a trust
provision giving him "the first opportunity to
purchase" the land. The district court decided
Bradley's opportunity expired when the three-year period
set in the trust lapsed without agreement to a sale by all
six siblings. Bradley asks us to reject that interpretation.
Because the trust language shows the parents intended Bradley
have a chance to buy the land without each sibling having
veto power, we reverse the district court order and remand
for further proceedings.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
1999, Luella and Quentin Taylor established identical
revocable trusts to direct the distribution of their assets
to their six living children: Bradley, Monette, Roann,
Stanley, Rodney, and Gregory. Both parents signed a first
amendment to their trusts in 2002 and a second amendment in
2008. This appeal focuses on the first amendment to Article
IV(D)(3) and the following disputed language:
I request that my trustee keep all of my farm real estate
[intact] for a period of three (3) crop years from the death
of trustor's wife or the trustor, whichever occurs later
and during the three (3) year period my trustee shall rent my
farm real estate to my son, Bradley D. Taylor under the terms
and conditions that existed at the time of my death or my
wife's death, whichever occurs later. No sale shall occur
during this period unless all my children agree otherwise.
Additionally, if and when any of my farm real estate is sold,
I direct that my son, Bradley D. Taylor shall be afforded the
first opportunity to purchase any or all of my farm real
estate at a price agreeable with all my children. If they are
unable to agree, then I grant to my son, Bradley D. Taylor,
the exclusive right and option to purchase any or all of my
farm real estate at a price to be arrived at by my son,
Bradley D. Taylor, selecting an appraiser knowledgeable in
farmland values in Northwest Iowa; my remaining children
shall select an appraiser knowledgeable in farmland values in
Northwest Iowa, and the two (2) appraisers selected shall
pick a third appraiser knowledgeable in farmland values in
Northwest Iowa and the average price determined by the
appraisers shall constitute the value of the farmland for
purposes of sale to my son, Bradley D. Taylor. My son,
Bradley D. Taylor, shall have sixty (60) days after the
appraisal is completed to determine whether to exercise this
option. If my son, Bradley D. Taylor, does exercise his
option granted herein, he shall file the election with the
O'Brien County Clerk of Court within sixty (60) days of
the appraisal date. If no election is filed within the sixty
(60) days of the appraisal, the option shall expire and my
children shall dispose of my farmland as my trustee shall
determine to be in the best interest of the
to their terms, the trusts became irrevocable after both
Luella and Quentin died. Luella died on March 29, 2014.
Quentin died on October 3, 2014.
October 2014, the district court approved the appointment of
Security State Bank of Sutherland, Iowa, as the trustee for
both trusts. In crop years 2015, 2016, and 2017,
Bradley rented the 340 acres of farmland held in the trusts.
three years following Quentin's death drew to a close,
the bank and beneficiaries engaged in a flurry of filings
about the sale of farmland contemplated in the trusts, listed
July 2017, the trustee bank applied for orders on the sale of
the farmland. See generally Iowa Code §
633A.6202(2)(a) (2017) (allowing trustee to petition the
court to "[c]onstrue and determine the terms of a
trust"). The bank asserted the wording of the
Taylors' trusts left several issues unaddressed,
a. The deadline, method and timing for parties to name their
b. The date to be used to determine the value of the land;
c. The breakdown of parcels to be sold;
d. The meaning of "date of appraisal" and how
notice of the appraisal amount is given to ...