California Superior Courts house both probate departments and civil departments. There are cases like elder financial abuse or disputes over an inheritance that may be filed in either the civil department or the probate department. The probate department exercises jurisdiction over proceedings brought under the California Probate Code. Abused beneficiaries generally have no right to a jury trial in probate proceedings.
On the other hand, a plaintiff in a civil case has the right to try issues before a jury. This right is enshrined in our California Constitution that states "Trial by jury is an inviolate right and shall be secured by all ..." We file and try elder financial abuse cases in the civil departments of the Superior Court. Civil departments regularly address complex procedural, evidentiary and punitive damage issues that may arise in such litigation. If our client is over the age of 70, they might be entitled to priority in trial dates. Our job is to stop any ongoing harm against a family estate or trust and then hold the perpetrator accountable in civil court.
So this is a short lesson on choosing probate or civil court when estate or trust assets are endangered by a wrongdoer through elder financial abuse or undue influence. Every lawsuit has its own particular facts and relationship with California's governing law. If you are wondering whether your case could be filed in the probate or civil department of the Superior Court, we'll be happy to discuss this with you. Hackard Law is dedicated to representing clients and safeguarding their beneficiary and inheritance rights in Sacramento, Los Angeles, the Bay Area and San Diego. You can reach us at 916-313-3030.