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Sheldon F. Kurtz

David H. Vernon Professor of Law

Immediately following his graduation from Syracuse University Law School, Professor Kurtz joined the New York law firm of Nixon, Mudge, Rose, Guthrie, Alexander and Mitchell where he specialized in property law. Two years later, however, he joined the law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen and Hamilton in order to practice estate planning. In 1973, he joined The University of Iowa College of Law Faculty. Since then, he has been teaching at the College of Law, except for a one year visiting professorship at the University of Virginia Law School and a two year stint as Dean of the Florida State University College of Law.

He, together with Professor Hovenkamp, another member of the law school faculty, and Professor Carol Brown of the University of Richmond Law School, have co-authored one of the leading casebooks on property law used in American legal education, American Property Law (West Publishing Company, 6th ed. 2012). Most recently Professor Kurtz authored Introduction to the Law of Real Property (5th. ed. 2011). Professor Kurtz pioneered a model legislative drafting seminar in which up to 16 students in a year-long seminar draft model legislation dealing with surrogate parenthood, aid-in-dying, and the procurement of human organs for transplantation. These statutes have all been published in one of the student-run journals at the College of Law.

Professor Kurtz also teaches a unique medical seminar for law students in which up to 8 law students spend one week at The University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics observing and discussing the delivery of health care. Professor Kurtz's research interests have focused not only on property and health law issues but on estate planning as well. In addition to publishing numerous articles on estate planning, he is the author or co-author of numerous books, including the most widely used treatise on Iowa probate law (Kurtz on Iowa Estates, 3rd Edition, 1995) and the only comprehensive student treatise on the law of wills and trusts (Wills, Trusts and Estates, 2d. ed. West Publishing Company, 2001).

Professor Kurtz joined the faculty in 1973.  For over 40 years, he has excelled in the classroom, in his scholarship and his service.  He focuses his teaching, scholarship and service on property law, trusts and estates, and health law.

446 Boyd Law Building
Practice & Teaching: 

Professor Kurtz teaches the first year Property Law course as well as upper class courses on Trusts and Estates and Health Law.


Professor Kurtz is a member of the Iowa bar.

Professor Kurtz is also a life member of the American Law Institute and is a member of the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics and the American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel. Professor Kurtz  chairs the Multistate Essay Drafting Committee of the National Conference of Bar Examiners which drafts the essay examination for a number of states, and he is a member of the Property Section of the Multistate Bar which prepares property questions for the Multistate Bar. Professor Kurtz has been an active member of the law school and University community.

Professor Kurtz is former Commissioner of Uniform State Laws from the State of Iowa. As a commissioner, he has worked on the development of many wide-adopted model laws. In particular he was the Reporter for the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act of 2006, which has been adopted in over 46 states. Most recently he is serving as Reporter for a revised Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. He has frequently worked with the probate committee of the Iowa Bar in drafting legislative reform proposals. In addition to his frequent service on the law school's appointments and curriculum committees, he has served the University in a variety of capacities. He is the only person in the history of the University to have served twice as President of the University’s Faculty Senate.


Reporter, Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (2006), an act providing for gifts of organs to be used for life-saving transplants

"The Unif. Prob. Code Addresses the Class-Gift and Intestacy Rights of Children of Assisted Reproduction Technologies,"AETEC Journal; 30 (2009)(with Larry Waggoner)


BA, Syracuse University, 1964

JD, Syracuse University, 1967