Utah Perpetuities Reform

On April 1, 2013, Governor Herbert signed into law H.B. 327.  H.B. 327 addresses several probate and trust matters, including technical corrections to Utah’s statutory Rule Against Perpetuities.

The new law clarifies that the perpetuities period in Utah is 1,000 years.   A bit of historical context is in order:

In 1990, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws published a version of the Uniform Statutory Rule Against Perpetuities.  The 1990 version of the uniform statute was enacted by the Utah legislature in 1998.  It appears at Utah Code §75-2-1203 through §75-2-1208.  The statute set the perpetuities period at 90 years.  The 90-year period was selected by the drafters of the Uniform Act because it was believed to approximate the traditional “life in being plus 21 years.”

In 2003, the Utah legislature amended the statute, extending the perpetuities period in subsection (1) of  §75-2-1203 from 90 years to 1,000 years.  The wrinkle was that section (4) contained several references to “a life in being plus 21 years,” which were designed to work hand-in-hand with the 90-year period, and the legislature did not “fix” section (4) when it adopted the 1,000-year period.  (It is also worth noting that the Comments to the Uniform Act specifically warn against the adoption of any period other than 90 years.)

Consequently, under a literal reading of the amended statute, it was unclear whether the perpetuities period in Utah was (a) 1,000 years, or (b) a life in being plus 21 years.  Section (1) set the perpetuities period at 1,000 years, but section (4) continued to codify the traditional “life in being plus 21 years” formulation.  The intent of the legislature in 2003 was clearly to establish a 1,000-year perpetuities period.

H.B. 327 changes the “life in being plus 21 years” references to “1,000 years.”  The result is not what the drafters of the Uniform Act intended, but at least the Utah statute is now internally consistent.

For more information on the Utah law of trusts and estates, go to the home page of this site.

Rust Tippett is the author of this blog post.

Copyright 2013 UNLEPI, LLC, a Utah limited liability company.  All Rights Reserved.

This blog post in no way creates an attorney-client relationship between the reader and either Robert S. (Rust) Tippett or Bennett Tueller Johnson & Deere, LLC.  The reader should consult with his or her own estate planning attorney regarding his or her particular circumstances.

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