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Probate Litigation in San Diego | Jurisdiction Questions Answered

San Diego Probate Litigation | Hackard Law

California state budget cuts have forced Superior Courts throughout the state to cut customer service due the shortage of operational funds. Court administrators have been forced to cut staff, close courtrooms and reduce business hours. The Judicial Council of California estimates that more than 52 courthouses and more than 200 courtrooms have been shuttered throughout the state.

San Diego has also suffered. Civil, trust and probate filings don't cease simply because there is less court time to address them. The location of your court filings depends upon your jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is the determination of the question, "Which Court Will Hear This Matter?"

Probate, trust and estate litigators need to establish which Court has the authority to decide a disputed estate case. This is known as "jurisdiction." In San Diego County, estate litigation and matters of elder financial abuse are subject to jurisdictional limits. Jurisdiction is the power of a Court to hear and determine proceedings. If the Court does not retain the authority to hear the estate dispute, the next question we face is: Which Court does have the power?

Jurisdictional limits or Judicial Authority may pertain to geography, citizenship of the parties, location of the parties, the Court's ability to apply relief, location of estate assets, location or domicile of the decedent, situs of trust administration and the subject matter of the dispute at hand.

Both probate and civil judges want to ensure that they hold the authority to hear a matter before they actually hear it in the courtroom. This is a key question at the beginning of the case - not one to be checked on the day of the actual trial. Does a judge exercise the authority to decide the cases filed in their Court and to issue the orders that are requested by the plaintiff, petitioner, defendant or respondent?

If an estate dispute concerns New Mexico property owned by a now-deceased Arizonan with beneficiaries residing in Hawaii, the California Court is unlikely to find it has jurisdiction over the property or the parties.

Jurisdictional disputes can be muddied by the actions of the parties after an action commences. Who has jurisdiction over a trust if a California trustee moves to Bermuda and administers the trust from Bermuda? These and other jurisdictional issues occur with more often than you might think.

A California Superior Court - located in one of California's 58 counties (such as San Diego County), exercises jurisdiction over a decedent's estate providing the follow three requirements are met: (1) An actual death; (2) the decedent, at the time of his or her death (a) lived in California or (b) left property in California; and (3) proper notice to interested parties is published.

If the decedent had not been domiciled in California - whether out of state or out of the United States - at the time of his or her passing, the California Court doesn't possess jurisdiction (power or authority) to appoint a personal representative for the estate unless the decedent was a property owner in California. In other words - if the decedent passed away in Mobile, Alabama, but owned property in San Diego, Carlsbad, Escondido, Del Mar or Oceanside then a probate will likely be opened in San Diego County.

The California Probate Code provides for exclusive subject matter jurisdiction (power and authority) over the internal affairs of a given trust. In turn, the internal affairs of a trust apply to a broad spectrum of activities. The Probate Court in San Diego County handles thousands of probate and estate cases annually.

San Diego County is located at the southwestern corner of California (and of the United States) of California's Central Valley and extends to the Nevada County line. It is the second most populous county in California and the fifth-most populous in the United Sates.

There is one Superior Court in San Diego County with four locations: Central Courthouse in San Diego; East County Regional Center in El Cajon; North County Regional Center in Vista and South County Regional Center in Chula Vista.

The eighteen incorporated Cities that are a part of San Diego County and are subject to San Diego County Superior Court jurisdiction include Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, El Cajon, Encinitas, Escondido, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, National City, Oceanside, Poway, San Diego, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach and Vista. There are a large number of unincorporated communities in San Diego County - among them Borrego Springs, Rancho Santa Fe, La Jolla, Solana Beach, and Cardiff by The Sea.

Hackard Law's trust litigation attorneys frequently protect client interests and assets in San Diego County in trust and estate disputes, including:

Pursuing or preventing termination of trusts

Undue Influence and Lack of Testamentary Capacity

Resignation or removal of trustees

Validity of wills or codicils

Will Contests

Executor removal

Trust Contests

Petitions for interpretation of trusts

Trustee's breach of fiduciary duty disputes and lawsuits

Will forgery claims

Our trust, estate and probate litigation lawyers can assist family members in estate, trusts, elder financial abuse and probate litigation in San Diego County, California. When we first examine a case, we'll always first answer this question: Does the San Diego County Superior Court retain the legal authority over the matters to which it is asked to rule? If not, then where should jurisdiction be based?

At Hackard Law we assist our clients with issues that challenge the wrongdoing of others associated with estates and trusts as well as the financial exploitation of elders. We litigate in many of the largest counties in California. If you are facing these and other California Probate Court estate and will issues in San Diego County, feel free to contact us today. Although Hackard Law is based in Sacramento, our attorneys regularly travel to San Diego to represent clients and protect their beneficiary rights. Call at (916) 313-3030. We look forward to speaking with you.  

Probate Litigation in San Diego | Jurisdiction Questions Answered from Hackard Law on Vimeo.

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