Iowa Resources

We have written detailed reviews of Iowa law impacting agricultural producers and landowners. Access these reviews by clicking on the tiles below. You can also review Iowa cases on a particular subject by searching our list of Iowa case law reviews at the bottom of this page.

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Typically, the relationship between an attorney and a client and the extent of the representation is pretty straightforward. Issues can arise, however, when clients have multiple roles that may create conflicts of interest in the representation.

Surviving spouses who receive little to no property from their deceased spouse under the terms of the will can choose to take an elective share of the deceased spouse’s estate. Typically, the spouse can receive one-third of the decedent’s real property, all exempt personal property held as head of the family, and one-third of other personal property not necessary for payment of debts and other charges. The Iowa Supreme Court in Sieh v.

When an administrative appeals process is outlined in a statute, a party is required to exhaust his administrative appeals before seeking judicial review of the matter. Failing to exhaust administrative appeals before filing suit in court almost always means the party has waived his right to appeal administrative decisions to a trial judge.

A garnishment proceeding is a method by which a judgment creditor can collect money owed by the judgment debtor directly from a third party who holds the debtor’s property (a garnishee). The proceeding is only effective to the extent of the debtor’s interest in the property attached. 

Attorney fees in any legal proceeding are only awarded when there is statutory or contractual authority for the award. In probate proceedings, Iowa Code Chapter 633 establishes, upon proof of the work done, the ordinary fees that may be granted to attorneys for their work in settling an estate. Attorneys who tackle complex and unusual cases may request extraordinary fees for work done on these issues. Attorney fee awards must be approved by the probate court after proof of the ordinary (and extraordinary) work done on behalf of the estate.

“We’re Number One, We’re Number One!” While that doesn’t apply to the Cyclones, Panthers, Bulldogs or the Hawkeyes, it does apply to Iowa’s corporate income tax – it’s the highest stated rate in the nation. Now, the Iowa Supreme Court has held that the tax applies to royalties received by a company that has no assets or employees in Iowa. As a result of the Court’s decision, the Iowa Department of Revenue (IDOR) has taken an even more aggressive stance against out-of-state businesses.

In this case, the court was asked to determine whether there was acquiescence in a previously existing fence line establishing a boundary between adjoining property owners who were bound by a written fence agreement. 

October 5, 2011 | Erin Herbold-Swalwell

In this divorce case, the trial court entered a decree in early 2011 ordering the parties to share joint legal custody of their minor child and for the parties to claim the child as a dependent for income tax purposes in alternating years. The ex-wife appealed on several issues, including the tax issue. She claimed, on appeal, that she should have been awarded the tax exemption for the minor child each year and further claimed that awarding the tax exemption each year to her would be in the child’s best interests.

Iowa Code §468.621 states that a landowner “may drain the land in the general course of natural drainage by constructing or reconstructing open or covered drains, discharging the drains in any natural watercourse or depression so the water will be carried into some other natural watercourse…”.  In addition, if the drainage is done solely upon the landowner’s property, the landowner is not liable for damages for the drainage unless it increases the quantity of water or changes the manner of discharge on the land of another.  In this case, a landowner claimed that his property had be

February 28, 2011 | Erin Herbold

Iowa Code Ch. 650 governs boundary by acquiescence disputes. In the past few years, we have seen several cases involving boundary disputes in Iowa, usually stemming from a change in ownership that triggers a survey of the property. Here, owners of two adjoining parcels disagreed as to whether they or their predecessors had acquiesced to use of an existing fence line as the boundary between their adjoining parcels. A farmer owned the north parcel for many years before selling the property to the plaintiff in 1998.

January 31, 2011 | Erin Herbold

Development agricultural property around the Des Moines metro area provided the background for this case in which the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed a Dallas County trial court’s ruling recognizing an easement for access to farmland across developed lots. The plaintiffs owned and farmed the ag property adjacent to the existing housing development.  They sued seeking judicial recognition of their right to access a farm field through the driveways of the lots. The defendant lot owners countersued, asking the court for damages caused by the farmer crossing their lots. 

In the early 1900’s, the Iowa Legislature created a system of drainage districts to facilitate construction and repair of drainage tile, levies, waterways and terraces in certain parts of the state. Normally, the county board of supervisors acts as the drainage district board in the event of disputes or drainage issues. In this case, workers for a rail line discovered a sink hole under the railroad tracks in a drainage district. The sink hole was the result of old clay drainage tiles collapsing and sucking the soil from the railroad embankment.

In Iowa, challenges to property tax assessments are first made at the county level. If the county board of review rejects the taxpayer’s arguments, the taxpayer may appeal to the county district court (trial court). If the taxpayer does not find relief at this level, they may appeal to the state’s appellate courts. In this case involving a property tax assessment challenge, the definition of “manufacturing equipment” was at issue.  “Manufacturing equipment” is exempt from tax. 

October 15, 2010 | Erin Herbold

We reported on this case two years ago.  Now, there is another development to report.  By way of background on this drainage dispute, Iowa law specifies that the natural drainage of surface water cannot be diverted by one landowner to the damage of another landowner.  But, courts only grant injunctive relief in situations where it is necessary to prevent irreparable harm or afford relief where there is no other adequate remedy.  A drainage issue and injunctive relief were involved in this case.

Iowa has specific rules governing the drainage of surface water. But, is the state subject to those same rules? That question was addressed in this case. In the Spring of 1999, a rural community in north central Iowa experienced heavy rainfall (nearly 7 inches in two days) resulting in flooding which damaged several properties. Several years later, the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) constructed a four-lane, divided-highway bypassing the town. The bypass crossed a stream and the bridge installed over the stream was designed to withstand a fifty-year flood.