In today’s society, it is not unusual for subsequent remarriages by a surviving spouse. This can create some issues in families from both marriages. Iowa law provides certain protections for a surviving spouse. For example, a spouse cannot be excluded from an estate plan without their consent. Should a spouse attempt to disinherit his or her spouse, the survivor can “elect against” and receive essentially one-third of the deceased spouse’s estate.
Another protection for the surviving spouse is the right to an allowance for a period 12 months after the death of his or her spouse. This “spousal allowance” is the spouse’s right to receive payments from the estate based upon his or her station in life and the condition of the estate. It is not necessary that there be a showing of need for this allowance and a prenuptial agreement cannot remove this right.
I represent individuals on both sides of these issues: those seeking to enforce spousal rights and those challenging those spousal rights.
Intentional Interference with Inheritance
Iowa has recognized a claim based on interference with inheritance, which is a fairly recent recognized claim in the Iowa courts.
Under this legal theory, if someone interferes in some fashion with an expected inheritance, the person who had their inheritance cut off can pursue a claim against the person that improperly interfered with that expected inheritance.