Father of the Iowa Trust Code

Martin D. Begleiter, Son of the Trust Code - The Iowa Trust Code after Ten Years, 59 Drake L. Rev. 265 (2011), available on SSRN.

Back in 2001, Professor Martin Begleiter published an article analyzing the drafting and revision of Iowa’s comprehensive new Trust Code, of which he was a primary author.1  A decade later, Professor Begleiter has released a follow-up work, Son of the Trust Code—The Iowa Trust Code after Ten Years. This new article chronicles the evolution of the Iowa Trust Code during its first decade of operation, discussing both legislative amendments and judicial pronouncements. Professor Begleiter’s new work, like his former one, not only offers a fascinating look into the legislative and judicial processes but provides invaluable lessons for other states which have recently adopted, or are considering adoption, of the Uniform Trust Code or other comprehensive legislation regulating trusts.

Three factors combine to give Begleiter’s article national relevance and enduring significance.  First, his subject matter is vitally important. The promulgation of the Uniform Trust Code (“UTC”) gets my vote as being the most significant trust law development of the 21st Century.  Enacted in approximately half of the states, and under consideration in numerous others, the UTC has reinforced timeless principles of trust law while revolutionizing others — generating robust scholarly debate among its many supporters and detractors. The Iowa Code, however, is not an enactment of the UTC. Rather, while it often parallels the UTC, the Iowa Trust Code was developed through an independent drafting process.  Accordingly, studying the Iowa Trust Code offers an opportunity to compare and contrast Iowa’s approaches to crucial issues with the UTC’s approaches to those same issues.

Second, Professor Begleiter is uniquely suited to explore this vital subject. As a primary draftsman of Iowa’s Trust Code, Begleiter has an intimate knowledge of every aspect of Iowa’s evolving trust law. In his Article, he cites extensively to letters and e-mail correspondence among Iowa lawyers, legislators and academics, placing his readers at the center of ongoing debates and exposing them to various perspectives on crucial issues. Although Iowa publishes no formal legislative history, Begleiter’s work effectively fills that void by providing a definitive history of the Iowa Trust Code.

Third, the overall structure of Begleiter’s work makes it simple to navigate and adds to its utility.  At the outset of his article, Professor Begleiter discusses some preliminary matters relating to the process of amending the Iowa Trust Code and changes to court jurisdiction over trusts. In the balance of the piece, Begleiter simply tracks the Iowa Code section-by-section, analyzing problems discovered and lessons learned during the Code’s first decade of operation. This structure provides readers with a choice as to how to navigate the article—permitting the reader to either read the article in its entirety or to efficiently skip directly to those sections discussing a particular issue of interest.

Reading this article, one cannot help but admire the depth of service Professor Begleiter has provided to the citizens and bar of Iowa in connection with the Iowa Trust Code project. After spending well over a decade on this project, he claims that he has now written all he will write regarding the Iowa Trust Code and this article marks “[t]he end” of his long dedication to that project. Given the ongoing importance of the UTC project, Iowa’s independent experience with its own trust code will continue to make an invaluable contribution to the national debate.  Perhaps we shouldn’t let Professor Begleiter sail off into the trust code sunset just yet.



  1. Martin D. Begleiter, In the Code We Trust—Some Trust Law for Iowa at Last, 49 Drake L. Rev. 165 (2001). []