South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Revocable Trust Part of Estate for Calculation of Survivorís Statutory Share

Iowa high court held that a surviving spouse was entitled to the statutory share of her deceased husband's estate. He had placed all his property in a revocable trust prior to their marriage, but since he had control of the property in the trust at the time of death, it was part of the estate.


Wills, Estates and Trusts

Key Words

Inter Vivos Trust; Survivor' Statutory Share

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

In 1992, Edward Sieh created a revocable inter vivos trust and transferred all his assets to the trust and named his children as beneficiaries. Six years later, he married Mary Jane. They remained married until is death five years later. Edward's children from an earlier marriage claimed ownership of the trust. Mary Jane contested their claim, asserting that the trust should be part of Edward's estate and that she would be entitled to take her statutory share as surviving spouse, which is about one-third of Edward's estate estate. The trial court held for the children; Mary Jane appealed.


Reversed and remanded. The assets of the inter vivos trust were under the control of Edward at the time of his death. Hence, they were property possessed by him during the marriage and were subject to the statutory share of his surviving spouse. Mary Jane did not contest the validity of the trust when she elected against the will. She was only contending that it had not been properly interpreted by failing to provide her the survivor's share.


Sieh v. Sieh, 2006 WL 662464 (---NW2d---, Sup. Ct. , Iowa , 2006)

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