LYNDA CICH, EXECUTOR OF ESTATE OF JUNE McLEISH, LYNDA CICH, HEIDILYN LEAVITT, and HEATHERLYN LAMBERT, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
MARK McLEISH, Defendant-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Bremer County, Colleen D.
McLeish appeals the probate of June McLeish's will.
AFFIRMED AND REMANDED.
Christopher F. O'Donohoe of Elwood, O'Donohoe, Braun
& White, LLP, New Hampton, for appellant.
J. Burns of Miller, Pearson, Gloe, Burns, Beatty &
Parrish, PLC, Decorah, for appellees.
by Vogel, C.J., Vaitheswaran, J., and Gamble, S.J. [*]
McLeish executed a will under which one of her sons, Mark,
would receive land known as the Hawkeye farm and her three
daughters would receive land known as the Maynard farm. June
transferred the Hawkeye farm to Mark during her lifetime.
health deteriorated, and she eventually entered a nursing
home. She gave Mark power of attorney over her affairs,
including power "[t]o transfer, assign, convey, and
deliver any real or personal property." The document she
executed stated Mark would "be liable for willful
misconduct or breach of good faith in the performance of any
of the" document's provisions.
sold the Maynard farm for $862, 500 and deposited the net
proceeds of $782, 917.90 into an investment account he opened
at a firm where his daughter-in-law worked. Shortly
thereafter, Mark presented June with a "transfer on
death beneficiary designation form." June designated
Mark the "100%" beneficiary of the account.
sisters learned of the sale at their mother's funeral.
One of the sisters, Lynda Cich, who served as executor of
June's estate, sued Mark in her capacity as executor and
in her individual capacity. Her two sisters, Heidilyn Leavitt
and Heatherlyn Lambert, also were named plaintiffs in the
lawsuit. The sisters alleged (1) Mark breached his fiduciary
duty "by selling the [Maynard farm] for substantially
less than its fair market value" of $1, 061, 000; (2)
Mark used his confidential relationship with June "to
wrongfully benefit himself to the exclusion of others";
and (3) Mark intentionally interfered with receipt of their
trial, the district court entered judgment of $1, 029, 344 in
favor of the executor, "for distribution to the three
plaintiffs, individually, pursuant to the last will and
testament of June McLeish."
appeal, Mark challenges the district court's
determinations that (1) he had a confidential relationship
with June, (2) he breached a fiduciary duty under the terms
of the power of attorney, (3) he intentionally interfered
with the sisters' inheritance, and (4) the sisters were
entitled to damages under the doctrine of ademption.
confidential relationship exists "whenever a continuous
trust is reposed by one person in the skill and integrity of
another." Mendenhall v. Judy,671 N.W.2d 452,
455 (Iowa 2003). "A transfer to a grantee standing in a
confidential or a fiduciary relationship to the grantor is
presumptively fraudulent." Id. at 454. To rebut
the presumption, the fund recipient must "prove by
clear, satisfactory, and convincing evidence that the grantee
acted in good faith throughout the transaction and the