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Josh Powell's family asks judge to declare Susan Powell 'dead'

Susan Cox Powell
Susan Cox Powell
Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — The mother and sister of Josh Powell want a judge to declare that Susan Cox Powell's death occurred before March of 2013.

Terrica Powell and Alina Powell, who are defined in court documents as the representatives of the estate of Michael Powell, filed a complaint in 3rd District Court Friday against Chuck Cox, the father of Susan Powell, the missing West Valley mother.

The legal action is the latest round in the ongoing battle over Josh and Susan Powell's life insurance money.

Last month, a 3rd District judge ruled in favor of Cox in his fight over conservatorship of his daughter's estate, denying a request by Terrica and Alina Powell to void Cox's declaration making him the sole beneficiary of a trust Josh and Susan Powell set up, effectively cutting out Terrica and Alina Powell as beneficiaries of $2.3 million in life insurance proceeds.

Susan Powell is presumed to have been murdered by her husband, Josh Powell. Her body, however, has never been found. Josh Powell later killed himself and the couple's two young sons.

Under state law, a person must be missing for a minimum of five years in order to be declared legally dead. Powell disappeared on Dec. 6, 2009.

In May, a federal judge in Washington issued an order dividing the money from three separate life insurance policies tied to Josh and Susan Powell. The proceeds would presumably be deposited in the trust when Susan Powell is declared dead in December.

As sole beneficiary of the trust, Cox would receive 100 percent of the money, or about $2.3 million. Josh Powell's mother, Terrica Powell, would still receive more than $756,000 from the other policies.

In their appeal, Terrica and Alina Powell contend that it's not reasonable to think Susan Powell was alive on May 10, 2013.

"The majority of the life insurance proceeds that were at issue in the Washington federal interpleader litigation were benefits for the life of Josh Powell. However, due to the trust amendment unilaterally executed by Charles Cox on May 10, 2013, the Cox family stands to receive most of that money paid on the life of Josh Powell. The validity of Cox’s amendment stands on the fiction that Susan Powell was still alive on the date of that amendment. Terrica and Alina Powell have filed this action to establish that the amendment was not valid, because the trust became irrevocable on Susan’s death, which likely occurred prior to Cox's amendment," the Powells' attorney, Josh Lee, said in a prepared statement.

Lee went on to say that Terrica and Alina Powell are also victims in the tragedy surrounding the deaths of the couple and their children

"Terrica and Alina seek only to protect the integrity of their legal rights and restore the trust's original intent, as established by Josh and Susan themselves," he argued.

There was no immediate response Friday afternoon from Cox's attorneys.


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