Families of Susan, Josh Powell wrangle over assets

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The parents of missing Utah mother Susan Cox Powell are wrangling with their late son-in-law's family over management of the woman's assets, including her West Valley City home.

Susan Powell has been missing since 2009. Utah police focused their investigation into her disappearance on her husband, Josh Powell, until he killed himself and the couple's two sons in February 2012.

Seattle-based attorney Anne Bremner, who represents Susan Powell's parents Judy and Chuck Cox of Puyallup, told Utah Judge L.A. Dever on Wednesday that the issue of managing Susan's estate has already been settled in a Washington state court.

Her father Chuck Cox has served as a conservator since January, but Terrica and Alina Powell, mother and sister to Josh Powell, have since asked a Utah judge to appoint a third-party to fill the role.

The conservator cannot financially benefit from the estate as Susan Powell has not been declared dead.

But if her father was removed as the manager of her assets, it would remove one roadblock for the Powell family, which is seeking $3.5 million in life insurance policies, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Several months before his death, Josh Powell changed his policy to make his family the beneficiaries, rather than his wife.

The insurance company has asked a federal judge in Washington state to settle if the money should be disbursed and to whom. The company, New York Life, had said it's not clear if Susan Powell could be removed as a beneficiary without her consent and if her husband was considered legally competent when he made those changes.

That matter is still being sorted out, but a Washington court has already ruled Cox would manage the estate.

Bremner said Wednesday that though the Powells lost in Washington, they are pushing the issue again in Utah.

Joshua Lee, a lawyer representing the Powells, argued Cox could not legally keep his clients from being a party to the estate.

Dever has not yet issued a ruling on the matter.