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Smith v. Smith

Court of Appeals of Utah

March 2, 2017

Sharon Smith, Appellee and Cross-appellant,
v.
Keith Smith, Appellant and Cross-appellee.

         Third District Court, Tooele Department The Honorable Robert W. Adkins No. 134300466

          Michael D. Black, Attorney for Appellant and Cross-appellee

          Troy L. Booher and Julie J. Nelson, Attorneys for Appellee and Cross-appellant

          Judge Stephen L. Roth authored this Opinion, in which Judges, Gregory K. Orme and Jill M. Pohlman concurred.

          ROTH, Judge

         ¶1 Keith Smith appeals from a divorce decree, claiming that the trial court misinterpreted the terms of a family trust and, as a consequence, improperly allocated certain property between the spouses. We affirm.

          BACKGROUND

         ¶2 Sharon Smith and Keith Smith married in 1979. Sharon[1]came from a farming family with sufficient assets to enable Sharon's mother to help the couple financially from time to time. To protect and pass her assets on to her children, Sharon's mother created the Luveda Fincher Family Limited Partnership (the Family Partnership), which included Sharon and her siblings as limited partners. In 2002, Sharon's mother modified the structure of the Family Partnership to begin distributing a portion of its assets to her children on a monthly basis. Sharon received distributions from the partnership for some years during the marriage and used the money for family expenses.

         ¶3 In 2006, the Smiths drafted a family trust document to shelter their real and personal property. The Smith Family Trust was comprised of two constituent trusts-the Keith L. Smith Trust and the Sharon L. Smith Trust. All assets transferred into the Family Trust were to be part of one spouse's individual trust as specified in the trust documents, or, if neither individual trust were specifically designated, the property would be "allocated equally between [the individual trusts]." In connection with the creation of the trust, the Smiths executed Schedule A, which was attached to and incorporated by reference in the main trust document.

         ¶4 Schedule A is the focal point of this appeal and appears to be the primary mechanism through which the Smiths funded the Family Trust. Schedule A contains four subsections, each covering a different category of property. Each subsection includes an ownership designation. Specifically, Schedule A provided that "property listed under the ownership category KLS is the exclusive property of The Keith L. Smith Trust, property listed as SLS is the exclusive property of The Sharon L. Smith Trust, and property designated KLS & SLS is owned equally by the two Trusts." The two subsections of Schedule A relevant to this appeal read as follows:

2. The following accounts in the following institutions, together with all future additions, interest or accumulations therein and also including all new accounts and the accumulations and the future additions, interest or accumulation in any and all other financial institutions in which new accounts are opened in the future:
Ownership
KLS & SLS A. Tooele Federal Credit Union [in dividual account information ...

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