Legal Memorandum: Case of First Impression in UT

Issue: What is the standard procedure for deciding a case of first impression in Utah in a matter where a conservator of an estate holds significant property as a joint tenant with rights of survivorship?

Area of Law: Family Law
Keywords: Case of first impression; Conservator; Joint tenant
Jurisdiction: Utah
Cited Cases: 844 P.2d 360; 631 P.2d 249; 186 P.3d 335; 101 P.3d 398; 139 P.3d 1055; 671 P.2d 165; 164 P.3d 1247; 991 P.2d 584; 196 S.E.2d 160
Cited Statutes: Utah Code § 75‑5‑422
Date: 01/01/2012

When Utah courts have not spoken on a particular issue, the courts in this state will look to authority from other jurisdictions to help decide a case of first impression.  E.g., Crestwood Cove Apts. Bus. Trust v. Turner, 164 P.3d 1247, 1251 n.6 (Utah 2007) (citing Arndt v. First Interstate Bank of Utah, N.A., 991 P.2d 584 (Utah 1999) (indicating that on matters of first impression, the Utah Supreme Court considers it appropriate to look to "case law from other jurisdictions for guidance").  That is, where there is no Utah authority that directly resolves a dispute, the Utah courts will look to treatises and other jurisdictions for guidance.  E.g., Vestin Mortg., Inc. v. First Am. Title Ins. Co., 101 P.3d 398, 402 (Utah Ct. App. 2004), aff’d, 139 P.3d 1055 (Utah 2006); accord Mandell v. Auditing Div., 186 P.3d 335, 340 (Utah 2008); Provo City v. Warden, 844 P.2d 360 (Utah Ct. App. 1992), aff’d, 875 P.2d 557 (Utah 1994). 

Research revealed no Utah cases addressing the a scenario which concerns a conservator of an estate in which he holds significant property as a joint tenant with rights of survivorship.  It may be argued that Utah Code § 75‑5‑422 addresses the conflict of interest situation.  In reality, § 75‑5‑422, "making sales, encumbrances and transactions voidable, is silent on testamentary dispositions."  In re Estate of Anderson, 671 P.2d 165, 169 (Utah 1983).  The statute says:

Any sale or encumbrance […]


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