West One Trust Co. v. Morrison, No. 920533-CA

CourtCourt of Appeals of Utah
Writing for the CourtGREENWOOD
Citation861 P.2d 1058
PartiesWEST ONE TRUST COMPANY, Personal Representative for the Estate of Merlin R. Morrison, Sr., Plaintiff and Appellant, v. Merlin R. MORRISON, Jr., and Edna R. Morrison, Defendants and Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 920533-CA
Decision Date02 September 1993

Page 1058

861 P.2d 1058
WEST ONE TRUST COMPANY, Personal Representative for the
Estate of Merlin R. Morrison, Sr., Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
Merlin R. MORRISON, Jr., and Edna R. Morrison, Defendants
and Appellees.
No. 920533-CA.
Court of Appeals of Utah.
Sept. 2, 1993.

Page 1059

Clark W. Sessions (Argued), Dean C. Andreasen, Michael T. Roberts, Campbell, Maack & Sessions, Salt Lake City, for appellant.

Jo Carol Nesset-Sale (Argued), Greggory J. Layton, Haley & Stolebarger, Salt Lake City, for appellees.

Before GARFF, GREENWOOD and ORME, JJ.

OPINION

GREENWOOD, Judge:

West One Trust Company (West One), the personal representative for the estate of Merlin R. Morrison, Sr. (Sr.), appeals from a summary judgment in favor of Sr.'s son, Merlin R. Morrison, Jr. (Jr.) and Sr.'s widow, Edna Morrison (Edna). West One claims that Sr.'s estate is entitled to an interest in certain real property which belonged to a partnership consisting of Sr. and Jr. The trial court, however, granted summary judgment to Jr. and Edna on the basis that the property was not an asset of the purported partnership, but rather was held in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship. We reverse and remand.

BACKGROUND

Because this is an appeal from a summary judgment, we recite the facts in a light most favorable to the losing party, West One. Blue Cross and Blue Shield v. State, 779 P.2d 634, 636 (Utah 1989).

Sr. died intestate on January 17, 1983. His survivors included his widow, four sons, two daughters, and three children of a deceased daughter. Between 1967 and 1978, Sr. and his son, Jr., purchased three pieces of real property. Each of the three properties was conveyed by warranty deed to Sr. and Jr. as "joint tenants with full rights of survivorship, and not as tenants in common." On the date of Sr.'s death, the record title on each of the properties remained unchanged. Sometime after Sr.'s death, Jr. conveyed the properties to himself and Edna as joint tenants.

On May 31, 1988, West One, personal representative of Sr.'s estate, filed suit against Jr. and Edna, requesting that the court order them to convey the three properties to Sr.'s estate. West One argued that the properties were actually owned by a partnership, consisting of Sr. and Jr. as equal partners, and therefore, upon dissolution of the partnership which necessarily occurred with Sr.'s death, Sr.'s estate and Jr. should each own an undivided one-half interest in the properties, rather than vesting entirely in Jr. as the surviving joint tenant.

During Jr.'s deposition, he estimated the value of the properties at issue as approximately $1,231,810. He also testified as to a history of business dealings between himself and his father. He alternatively described these transactions as partnership activities, and later as joint activities, particularly as regards the properties at issue. Jr. testified that he and Sr. filed tax returns as a partnership. Jr. testified that he and his father operated on the basis of an oral agreement, and that he, Jr., contributed capital and services to the joint enterprise. Jr. stated that after Sr.'s death, he and his mother, Edna, entered into a partnership on terms identical to those controlling the partnership with Sr. Jr. testified that this agreement resulted in a 50/50 ownership for him and Edna in the three properties. Jr. prepared a partnership agreement that he and Edna signed. This agreement included the following provisions:

a. Merlin R. Morrison, Sr., and Merlin R. Morrison, Jr., were the owners of the parcels of real property located in Davis and Salt Lake Counties, Utah described further on the attached schedule of Partnership Assets, incorporated herein by this reference (sometimes referred to collectively as "the properties").

b. Merlin R. Morrison, Sr., and Merlin R. Morrison, operated the properties as a co-equal Partnership since acquisition as reflected on partnership income tax returns filed annually on behalf of the Partnership since at least 1968.

Page 1060

c. Merlin R. Morrison, Sr. passed away on January 17, 1983.

d. Although record title to the properties at the death of Merlin R. Morrison, Sr., stood in the name of Merlin R. Morrison, Sr. and Merlin R. Morrison, Jr., as joint tenants, Merlin R. Morrison, Jr. acknowledges that such title holding was for convenience only, subject to the informal Partnership Agreement between the parties and not with any intent to pass title on death of either Partner. This anticipated that the Partnership interest of Merlin R. Morrison would pass to Edna R. Morrison, his wife.

e. In order to facilitate the management and preservation of the Properties, the parties desire to continue the Partnership arrangement and by this Agreement intend to formalize and refine the terms of the existing Partnership.

Jr. also executed deeds transferring the subject properties to himself and Edna as joint tenants. He testified that he did so to demonstrate to the estate's attorney that he and Edna had a partnership. He further stated he did not understand the legal meaning of the terms "tenants in common" or "joint tenancy."

Edna was also deposed and initially stated that Sr. did not intend that Jr. should become the sole owner of the subject properties upon his death, but wanted Edna to have the properties. In a subsequent deposition, however, Edna testified that Sr. intended that Jr. receive the properties.

On September 17, 1991, Jr. and Edna filed a motion for partial summary judgment, asserting that because the deeds specified joint tenancy ownership, the properties passed to Jr. by operation of law upon Sr.'s death. After a hearing, the court concluded that the three deeds were clear and unambiguous on their face and, therefore, that Sr. and Jr. had held title to the properties as joint tenants with full rights of survivorship. West One then withdrew all remaining claims and the court entered summary judgment in favor of the Morrisons.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

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9 practice notes
  • Olympus Hills Shopping Center, Ltd. v. Smith's Food & Drug Centers, Inc., No. 930531-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • December 29, 1994
    ...to be determined from the evidence presented. Heslop v. Bank of Utah, 839 P.2d 828, 838 (Utah 1992); West One Trust Co. v. Morrison, 861 P.2d 1058, 1060 (Utah App.1993); see Nay v. General Motors Corp., 850 P.2d 1260, 1263 (Utah 1993). The trial court must assess those facts in a light most......
  • Cantamar, L.L.C. v. Champagne, No. 20050778-CA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • August 3, 2006
    ...may apply to instances where the parties misunderstood the legal effect of the words in a document." West One Trust Co. v. Morrison, 861 P.2d 1058, 1061 (Utah ¶ 39 Even assuming the alleged oral agreement exists,10 DSI did not proffer, and the record does not provide, any evidence to demons......
  • In re Adoption of BTD, No. 20020083-CA.
    • United States
    • Utah Court of Appeals
    • April 3, 2003
    ...correctly found "evidence of a clear and convincing nature" of undue influence in execution of deed); West One Trust Co. v. Morrison, 861 P.2d 1058, 1061 (Utah Ct.App.1993) (applying clear and convincing evidence standard to 68 P.3d 1027 questions of mutual mistake in formation of contracts......
  • Agricultural Management Development v. National City Bank, Cause No. 1:02-CV-11 (N.D. Ind. 6/23/2003), Cause No. 1:02-CV-11.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • June 23, 2003
    ...B.R. 524, 527 (Bankr. S.D. Ohio 1997); In re Estate of Nuss, 646 N.E.2d 504, 507 (Ohio App. Ct. 1994); West One Trust Co. v. Morrison, 861 P.2d 1058 (Utah Ct. App. 1993), and Hake apparently never claimed any of LeeWee's profits and losses on his personal tax returns while Winger did. Addit......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • Olympus Hills Shopping Center, Ltd. v. Smith's Food & Drug Centers, Inc., No. 930531-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • December 29, 1994
    ...to be determined from the evidence presented. Heslop v. Bank of Utah, 839 P.2d 828, 838 (Utah 1992); West One Trust Co. v. Morrison, 861 P.2d 1058, 1060 (Utah App.1993); see Nay v. General Motors Corp., 850 P.2d 1260, 1263 (Utah 1993). The trial court must assess those facts in a light most......
  • Cantamar, L.L.C. v. Champagne, No. 20050778-CA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • August 3, 2006
    ...may apply to instances where the parties misunderstood the legal effect of the words in a document." West One Trust Co. v. Morrison, 861 P.2d 1058, 1061 (Utah ¶ 39 Even assuming the alleged oral agreement exists,10 DSI did not proffer, and the record does not provide, any evidence to demons......
  • In re Adoption of BTD, No. 20020083-CA.
    • United States
    • Utah Court of Appeals
    • April 3, 2003
    ...correctly found "evidence of a clear and convincing nature" of undue influence in execution of deed); West One Trust Co. v. Morrison, 861 P.2d 1058, 1061 (Utah Ct.App.1993) (applying clear and convincing evidence standard to 68 P.3d 1027 questions of mutual mistake in formation of contracts......
  • Agricultural Management Development v. National City Bank, Cause No. 1:02-CV-11 (N.D. Ind. 6/23/2003), Cause No. 1:02-CV-11.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • June 23, 2003
    ...B.R. 524, 527 (Bankr. S.D. Ohio 1997); In re Estate of Nuss, 646 N.E.2d 504, 507 (Ohio App. Ct. 1994); West One Trust Co. v. Morrison, 861 P.2d 1058 (Utah Ct. App. 1993), and Hake apparently never claimed any of LeeWee's profits and losses on his personal tax returns while Winger did. Addit......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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