The Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah judge sided with the parents of missing mother Susan Powell, ruling that her father was within his bounds to cut out Josh Powell’s mother and sister from a trust set to receive $2 million in life-insurance proceeds in a few months.
Third District Judge L.A. Dever issued the ruling Wednesday, nearly two months after he heard arguments about the case.
Dever said Susan Powell’s father, Charles Cox, misconstrued the powers he had been given as the conservator of the trust. But the judge stopped short of voiding an amendment approved by a different judge in January 2013.
Dever said the Powells waited too long to object, failing to formally contest the decision until nine months after it was approved.
The money is to flow into a trust created by Susan Powell and her husband, Josh Powell, this December when she is presumed legally dead — five years after her disappearance.
The ruling means Josh Powell’s surviving family members won’t be able to receive funds from the trust, unless they decide to appeal and win a favorable ruling.
Josh Powell was being investigated as a suspect in his wife’s disappearance when he moved back to Pierce County, where he killed himself and the couple’s boys in 2012.
Charles Cox, who was designated as conservator of the trust after his daughter’s disappearance, made the amendments last year in a move approved by another judge.
During a July 8 hearing, his lawyer, Ted Buck, said Cox has no responsibility to look out for anybody but his daughter, and that his modifications of the trust were within his legal rights as conservator.
Buck could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
The Powells’ attorney, Joshua Lee, argued in the hearing that the proceeds should be split evenly between the two families as originally set up. Lee accused Cox of having a conflict of interest, hoping to “line his own pockets” with the life-insurance proceeds at the expense of Josh Powell’s family. Susan Powell was close with her mother-in-law, even designating her as the second choice to be guardian of her kids, he said.
Lee said Wednesday that he disagreed with the ruling, but declined further comment. He said they Powells haven’t decided about an appeal yet.
The Utah police agency investigating Susan Powell’s disappearance closed the case last year, saying for the first time that they believed Josh Powell played a role in killing his wife and that his brother Michael Powell helped get rid of her body. Both men denied involvement in her disappearance before committing suicide about a year apart.