IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF DAVID L. CHRISTOFFERSEN, Deceased.
SHIRLEY CHRISTOFFERSEN, Appellee. KAREN E. CHRISTOFFERSEN, Appellant,
from the Iowa District Court for Shelby County, Timothy
administrator of an estate appeals a probate order finding
she engaged in self-dealing and disapproving an amended
report and inventory.
J. Anderson of Thomas J. Anderson, P.C., L.L.O., Papillion,
Nebraska, for appellant.
V. McKinney of McKinney Law Offices, PC, Waukee, for
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
Christoffersen borrowed $110, 962.30 from his sister Shirley
Christoffersen during the final four years of his life. After
David's death in January 2016, Shirley sought repayment
of her loans by making a claim against David's estate,
which was administered by his surviving spouse, Karen
Christoffersen. Karen did not pay Shirley's claim and
moved to amend the report and inventory in several ways.
After a hearing, the probate court found Karen engaged in
self-dealing under Iowa Code section 633.160 (2017). The
court also refused to approve the amended report and
inventory, finding Karen was attempting to "reduce the
amount of funds in the estate available to pay unsecured
claims." Karen appeals the probate ruling.
the probate court properly applied the provisions of Iowa
Code chapter 633 to Karen's conduct as the administrator
of David's estate, we affirm the self-dealing
determination. We slightly modify the ruling on the amended
report and inventory to allow the correction of genuine
inaccuracies in the original report.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
and Karen Christoffersen were married for twenty-eight years.
Karen had a daughter from a previous relationship. During
their marriage, Karen worked as a homemaker. David had a
degree in mechanical engineering and handled the family's
finances, sharing little information with Karen.
April 2012, David found himself in a "financial
bind" and started borrowing money from his sister
Shirley. The first check was for $5000. The second check,
dated January 2013, was for $3500. After that, Shirley wrote
David personal checks on an almost monthly basis, the last
one in September 2015. All told, David accumulated a debt to
his sister in the amount of $101, 000. According to Shirley,
David regretted borrowing the money, but he promised to pay
her back when he sold a warehouse in Atlantic from which he
operated a parts-distribution business called Chewit
Properties, LLC (Chewit Properties).
from heart and lung failure, David checked into the hospital
in October 2015 and died in January 2016. Both Karen and
Shirley visited him daily, and during a conversation in the
hospital cafeteria about the couple's troubled finances,
Shirley mentioned the loans she'd been making to David.
Karen had been unaware of her husband's borrowing.
same timeframe, Karen received three default notices from
Midstates Bank. In November 2015, Shirley accompanied Karen
to meet with the loan officer. Shirley agreed to advance
$9217.32 to pay off two of three bank notes on Chewit
Properties. She also paid other expenses related to that
account in the amounts of $114.98, $255, and $375. With those
additional advances, David owed his sister a total of $110,
962.30 at the time of his death.
was appointed administrator of David's estate in late
January 2016. The original report and inventory valued the
gross estate for federal tax purposes at $687, 076.08. It
valued Chewit Properties at $140, 000. In March 2016, Karen
sold the Atlantic warehouse for $300, 000 and first used
those funds to pay the $161, 290 mortgage balance on the
Chewit property. Shirley testified David intended her
unsecured loans be repaid after the Chewit mortgage. But
Karen used the remainder of the sale proceeds to pay off two
personal mortgages: (1) the remaining balance of $104, 696.35
from a $160, 000 mortgage on farm property owned by David and
Karen as ...