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Polygamous trust solution headed to Utah lawmakers

Published March 5, 2013 9:01 pm

Courts • A judge signs off on a plan to pay $5.6M to the fiduciary overseeing the UEP.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The complex case of a trust holding assets worth millions of dollars in polygamous communities inched forward Tuesday after a judge signed off on a plan to pay the man overseeing that trust.

During a Tuesday hearing, 3rd District Judge Denise Lindberg approved a plan to move the United Effort Plan (UEP) case toward resolution. The plan is designed to get payment for fiduciary Bruce Wisan, who oversees the UEP, and offers hints at how the state may eventually end its involvement in the case.

The UEP trust controls much of the land in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., where the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is based. The trust was created by the FLDS church but was taken over by the state in 2005 over concerns that it was being mismanaged. Wisan, an accountant, was subsequently appointed as fiduciary to oversee the trust but has never been paid and is now owed $5.69 million.

The document approved by Lindberg states that Wisan's office will support an effort to appoint trustees to oversee the UEP. The methods by which those trustees would be chosen are not explored in the document.

However, Assistant Utah Attorney General David Wolf said after Tuesday's hearing that any future trustees will have to be "independent," or able to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries of the trust.

The document also states that Wisan can still argue to terminate the trust in the future.

In addition, the document says that Wisan's office will not seek more than the $5.69 million he is already owed, will not seek interest on the unpaid debt, and that the state will hold a lien on UEP property. The lien is designed to ensure that the state eventually gets its money back.

Now that both sides have agreed on a broad strategy, Val Oveson, a former lieutenant governor who represents Wisan's office, will take it to the Legislature for approval. If lawmakers approve the strategy, Wisan should get paid. Oveson expressed optimism Tuesday that lawmakers would approve the plan.

jdalrymple@sltrib.com

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