IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF JOHN R. RHOTEN, Deceased,
ESTATE OF JOHN R. RHOTEN, CO-EXECUTORS JOHN E. RHOTEN, JULIE A. NELSON, JOAN K. BOND, and JAY R. RHOTEN, Defendants-Appellees. KATHRYN RHOTEN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
from the Iowa District Court for Dallas County, Richard B.
appeals the district court decision denying her challenge to
the validity of a premarital agreement filed in the probate
proceedings for her late husband.
Bradley Skinner and Cameron K. Wright of Skinner Law Office,
PC, Altoona, for appellant.
Smith of Smith Law Firm, PLC, Altoona, for appellees.
by Potterfield, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
Rhoten appeals the district court decision denying her
challenge to the validity of a premarital agreement filed in
the probate proceedings for her late husband, John Rhoten. We
find Kathryn has not shown the premarital agreement is
unenforceable on the ground John failed to disclose all of
his assets and debts to her and further find the premarital
agreement is not unconscionable. We affirm the district
Background Facts & Proceedings
had a farm near Linden, in Dallas County. From his first
marriage, John had five children, John E. Rhoten (John E.),
Julie Nelson, Jeannie Rhoten, Joanie Bond, and Jay Rhoten. John
consistently told his children he wanted his farmland to go
to them when he died.
1992, John met Kathryn, who was living in Des Moines. Kathryn
had two previous marriages, which had ended in divorce. She
had a successful career in the insurance industry, working
for several large companies and receiving promotions and
advancements. In 1994, Kathryn moved to the farm to live with
John. She worked out of an office in the home. John usually
conducted his business dealings concerning the operation of
the farm while sitting at the kitchen table, and Kathryn was
present during some of John's business conversations.
November 1997, John and Kathryn became engaged. John
discussed a premarital agreement with his attorney, Samuel
Braland. Also, John and Kathryn had discussed a premarital
agreement. On August 24, 1998, Braland sent a premarital
agreement to John. The agreement stated a net worth statement
was attached, but no statement was attached to the premarital
agreement Braland sent to John. The premarital agreement
In consideration of their marriage and this agreement, if
John dies testate Kathryn hereby waives, relinquishes,
releases and renounces the right of election to take against
John's will provided under Section 633.238 Code of Iowa
(1997) . . . . It is understood and agreed that Kathryn shall
have and take only what is devised to her in John's Will,
if anything, and she shall have no other right, title,
interest or allowance in or from his testate estate.
agreement included a corresponding provision, stating John
would acquire no right in Kathryn's testate estate.
and Kathryn set a wedding date for Saturday, November 28,
1998. In the evening on Monday, November 23, John asked his
daughter Julie, who was a notary public, to come over to
notarize a document. John signed the premarital agreement in
Julie's presence, and she notarized it. John told Julie
to take the premarital agreement to Kathryn for her
signature. Julie, who was employed by Kathryn as an
administrative assistant, gave the premarital agreement to
Kathryn, who was in her home office. Kathryn had not
previously seen the document, however, she stated she was not
surprised to receive the premarital agreement. She read the
document and signed it. She ...