The Appellate Group

In re Harding Trust

In re Harding Trust, 2023 UT App 81 (Harris, J.)


After a trust dispute, the district court determined that step-son, Taylor, had engaged in multiple acts of self-dealing. It also held Taylor’s Mother (Mother’s Estate) vicariously liable. Both Taylor and Mother’s Estate appealed separately. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, rejecting all of Taylor’s complaints except one and accepting most of Mother’s Estate’s complaints, holding:

  • The district court erred in holding Mother’s Estate liable for Taylor’s actions and in calculating interest owed to her Estate, among other things.
  • The district court clearly erred awarding petitioner $250,000 without making specific findings explaining why that amount was proper instead of the $35,000 plus interest that he had asked for.
  • Judicial Tip: A court should engage in a comprehensive analysis—making specific findings and explaining its damages award—when it greatly deviates from the amount a party asked for.
  • Judicial Tip: Where the evidence supports two similar damages awards (e.g., $28,000 versus $33,000), a district court has discretion to choose from between them.

Read the full court opinion