Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts

Utah judge postpones ruling on Susan Powell estate dispute
Disappearance » Chuck Cox is “lining his own pockets,” a lawyer says.
First Published Jul 08 2014 12:55 pm • Last Updated Jul 08 2014 10:34 pm

The family of Josh Powell on Tuesday again asked a 3rd District judge to reinstate them as trustees of Josh and Susan Powell’s estate.

Judge L.A. Dever said he will issue a written ruling later, but he denied a motion from the Powell family attorney to require the Coxes to post a surety bond to safeguard against mismanagement. Dever said there was no evidence Chuck Cox, Susan Powell’s father, had thus far mismanaged any holdings.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The families of Josh Powell and his missing wife Susan are arguing over who should be the trustees and beneficiaries of two legal entities holding the couple’s assets: a conservatorship and a trust. The conservatorship is holding Susan Powell’s assets while she remains missing. The trust holds the joint assets of Josh and Susan Powell that were to be distributed in the event both of them died.

Together the trust and conservatorship hold about $2.3 million in life insurance proceeds, which are accumulating interest, as well as the Powell home in West Valley City.

Chuck Cox is the conservator for his daughter and used that authority to change the terms of the trust. Terrica and Alina Powell — Josh’s mother and sister, respectively — contend the terms of those agencies were illegally changed to remove them as trustees or beneficiaries.

Their Utah lawyer, Joshua Lee, said being conservator of Susan Powell’s estate does not give Cox all the powers that his daughter had, and only Susan Powell had the authority to amend the trust.

"A conservator can amend the trust only in the case of incapacity," Lee told Dever, citing the terms of the trust.

Lee also accused Cox of having a conflict of interest because he used his authority as conservator to make his wife and himself the lone trustees. Lee said Cox is "lining his own pockets."

But Cox’s attorney, Ted Buck, told Dever that Cox has an obligation to do what is best for his daughter, and much has changed since the trust was written in 2009.

"Do we think that Susan Powell would have those same priorities after what has happened since 2009?" Buck said. "I don’t think so."

story continues below
story continues below

Susan Powell, 28, disappeared from her West Valley City home on Dec. 6, 2009.

Her husband, Josh Powell, 35, was investigated by police, but never charged.

Josh Powell killed his two children and himself in 2012 at a home in Graham, Wash.

Cox can only spend trust money to maintain assets, such as paying the property taxes on the West Valley City home. Utah law says Susan Powell can be declared dead after five years, at which time the assets could be distributed.

Cox and his wife Judy traveled from their home in Puyallup, Wash., to attend Tuesday’s hearing in Salt Lake City.

In the past, Chuck Cox has said he believes his daughter is dead. On Tuesday, he sounded more optimistic.

"I’m trying to protect my daughter’s assets," Chuck Cox told reporters after the hearing, "so when my daughter comes back and she’s found there will be something for her to come back to."

Attorneys for the Powells have taken pains to point out that Josh Powell’s father, Steve Powell, is not a party in the litigation and does not stand to receive any money. Steve Powell was convicted in 2012 of 14 counts of voyeurism for photographing neighbor girls in various states of undress.


Twitter: @natecarlisle

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.