In the matter of the J. Melvin and Glenna D. Bulloch Living Trust
Glenna D. Bulloch, Appellee. Kim Murie and Brent Murie, Appellants,
District Court, Cedar City Department The Honorable Keith C.
Barnes No. 143500053
M. Pearson, Daniel E. Witte, and Elliot P. Smith, Attorneys
David Westwood and Scott M. Burns, Attorneys for Appellee
JILL M. POHLMAN authored this Opinion, in which JUDGES KATE
A. TOOMEY and RYAN M. HARRIS concurred.
In this case, we consider whether the district court, in the
context of deciding a motion for summary judgment, correctly
ruled that an amendment to the J. Melvin and Glenna D.
Bulloch Living Trust (the Trust) was void as a matter of law.
We also consider whether the court exceeded its discretion in
entering final judgment before resolving other issues
relating to the administration of the Trust. We affirm.
J. Melvin Bulloch and Glenna D. Bulloch established the
Trust in May 1996. They were each designated as Grantors and
also as Trustees of the Trust. Among its provisions, and as
relevant here, the Trust provided, "So long as both
Grantors are living, they reserve the right to revoke, alter
or amend this Trust instrument in whole or in part by a
written instrument signed, acknowledged and delivered to the
Trustees. Such election must be made by both Grantors."
In August 1998, Melvin appointed Glenna as his
attorney-in-fact through a written "General Power of
Attorney" (the Power of Attorney). The Power of Attorney
defined the scope of Glenna's authority, stating that
Glenna was appointed to act for Melvin as follows:
In my name, place and stead, to do any act or transaction
which I would do myself, if I were personally present, with
respect to all matters to the fullest extent that I as an
individual am permitted by law to perform by and through an
agent (including what I may do as Trustee of The J. Melvin
and Glenna D. Bulloch Living Trust . . .).
Power of Attorney then provided a non-exclusive listing of
powers delegated to Glenna as attorney-in-fact:
To conduct banking transactions; to receive, endorse and cash
any checks payable to me, from whatever source, to deposit
such funds in any bank or invest such funds or expend such
funds for my maintenance and support, whether directly or
indirectly, and to have control over any funds deposited in
my name, personally or in my name as Trustee . . . and to
have access to any safe deposit box held in my name. To
conduct real estate transactions, including the power to
sell, rent or lease any rights I may own in real estate, and
to receive and receipt any and all rents, royalties, and all
payments now due or to become due to me as I would be able to
do myself (including what I may do as Trustee . . .); to sign
tax returns and receive and cash tax refund checks; to make
gifts in my name and to take steps to perpetuate and carry
out my estate plan and financial plans; and to do any and all
other things necessary and proper in the conduct of my
personal, business, banking and Trust affairs.
Many years later, on April 2, 2013, Glenna signed the Second
Amendment to the Trust (the Second Amendment). It purported
to amend the Trust by, among other things, altering the
property distribution such that two particular parcels of
property held in the Trust for the benefit of all the
beneficiaries would be conveyed to Kim Murie, the
Bullochs' daughter. Glenna signed the Second Amendment in
her individual capacity and in her capacity as Melvin's
attorney-in-fact. Melvin did not sign the Second Amendment.
He died two days later.
In June 2014, Glenna filed a petition for declaratory
judgment, claiming that she "did not understand the
Second Amendment when she signed it" and requesting a
court order declaring it void "so as to resolve any
disputes over her estate." She argued that the Second
Amendment should be declared void pursuant to Utah Code
section 75-5-503(1), which prohibited an attorney-in-fact
from modifying an inter vivos revocable trust unless such
power was "expressly authorized in the power of
attorney." Utah Code Ann. § 75-5-503(1) (LexisNexis
Supp. 2014). She claimed that the Second Amendment was
void on the basis that there was "no language in the
Power of Attorney that expressly authorizes the agent to
modify the Trust."
In March 2016, Glenna moved for summary judgment in which she
repeated the section 75-5-503 statutory argument she made in
the petition. Relatedly, Glenna also contended that the broad
language in the Power of Attorney giving her authority
"to do any and all other things necessary and proper in
the conduct of [Melvin's] . . . Trust affairs" could
not be construed to authorize her to amend the Trust. And she
asserted that while the language in the Power of Attorney
referenced her authority to act in Melvin's stead as ...