November 1, 2011 Utah Supreme Court Opinions

On November 1, 2011, the Utah Supreme Court filed two opinions, Patterson v. Patterson, 2011 UT 68 and Warne v. Warne, 2011 UT 69, dealing with the Utah Uniform Trust Code (UUTC). The holding of the cases essentially was that the UUTC overruled the case of Banks v. Means, 2002 UT 65, which required a settlor of a revocable trust to strictly comply with its terms. In the cases, the settlor revoked a beneficiary from the trust without terminating the entire trust, as provided for in the language of the trust documents. The district courts invalidated the revocations of the beneficiaries holding that they did not comply with Banks. On appeal, the Court reversed the district courts and concluded that the UUTC overruled Banks, and that the revocations complied with the statute. The reasoning behind the ruling is that UUTC has liberalized amendments to living trusts in order to effectuate the intent of the settlor. The UUTC applied to the cases and allowed for the settlor to revoke the beneficiaries without having to terminated the entire trust.