No will for Prince means big money for siblings

David Repp Iowa Tax Law Iowa Trusts & Estates Law Iowa Family Law Dickinson Law Des Moines Iowa

Posted on 04/28/2016 at 10:26 AM by David Repp

The latest news out of Minnesota indicates Prince died without leaving a will. In Minnesota, Prince’s siblings and half siblings share everything equally. What happens if a person dies in Iowa without a will?

If you are married, your spouse will receive all of your property.  However, if you have children that are not also your spouse's children, your spouse will receive one-half of your property and your children will receive the other half.  Iowa Code § 633.212.  Note that this only applies to "probate property"—property passing through joint tenancy designations and beneficiary designations (such as insurance or retirement plans) will not be affected by Iowa's intestacy laws.  It also will not apply to property in a revocable trust.  Adopted children are treated the same as biological children.  Iowa Code § 633.223.  However, adult adoptions are not recognized by the Iowa courts if the primary purpose is to create an heir.  Schaefer v. Merchants Nat. Bank of Cedar Rapids, 160 N.W.2d 318 (Iowa 1968); Elliott v. Hiddleson, 303 N.W.2d 140 (Iowa 1981).

If you have no spouse, the property will go as follows:

  1. To children equally.
  2. If a child has died, that child’s share goes to the child's children who will share the deceased child's share.  This is called “per stirpes” distribution.
  3. If there are no descendants, the property goes to the parents, equally, or if only one survives, to the survivor.
  4. If no parents are surviving, then one-half of the property goes to the decedent’s mother’s descendants (i.e. siblings of the decedent, then nieces and nephews, etc.) and the other half goes to the decedent’s father’s descendants, all in a per stirpes distribution manner.
  5. If no one is found there, up to the grandparents and if no grandparents are living, then down from there in a per stirpes distribution manner.
  6. If no one can be found there, then to the state of Iowa.

The process is known as "intestate succession."  Iowa Code § 633.219.  The distribution of Prince’s estate would be a little different in Iowa.  Rather than each of Prince’s siblings and half-siblings sharing his estate equally as in Minnesota, Iowa law would provide that his half-siblings would only get a half share whereas a full sibling would get a full share.   Prince has a $300 million estate and six siblings.  One is a full sibling (Tyka) and five are surviving half siblings (Sharon, John, Norrine, Alfred and Omarr).  Under Minnesota law, each sibling would be entitled to $50 million.   Under Iowa law, the descendants of Prince’s mother would receive $150 million and the descendants of Prince’s father would receive $150 million.  Prince’s mother had three children other than Prince, so each sibling would receive one-third of $150 million or $50 million each.  Prince’s father had six children other than Prince, but only four survived Prince.  So, four would share the other $150 million, or $35.5 million each.  Here is how the siblings  end up under Iowa law:

Tyka $50 + $37.5 = $87.5 million

Alfred = $50 million

Omarr = $50 million

Sharon = $37.5 million

John = $37.5 million

Norrine = $37.5 million

The material in this blog is not intended, nor should it be construed or relied upon, as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney if specific legal information is needed.


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