IA Estate Attorney Owes No Personal Duty to Executor

Iowa case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: Attorney malpractice.

Diean Sabin v. Ivan Ackerman. IA attorney malpractice

In legal malpractice case against attorney for executor of estate, trial court held that attorney owed no duty of care to executor in her personal capacity.

The Supreme Court held that an attorney hired by an executor or administrator undertakes the obligations to properly oversee the administration of the estate. That duty can flow to third-party beneficiaries of the estate. However, that does not imply a duty to protect the personal interests of the executor. There were no additional facts in this case giving rise to such a duty. Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court. It vacated the contrary opinion of the Court of Appeals, Sabin v. Ackerman(Iowa Ct. App. 2013).

No. 12-0629 (Iowa Mar. 28, 2014).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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