Monday, April 20, 2015


SECTION 3-105. Uniform Probate Code
 PROCEEDINGS AFFECTING DEVOLUTION AND ADMINISTRATION; JURISDICTION OF SUBJECT MATTER. Persons interested in decedents’ estates may apply to the Registrar for determination in the informal proceedings provided in this [article], and may petition the court for orders in formal proceedings within the court’s jurisdiction including but not limited to those described in this [article]. The court has exclusive jurisdiction of formal proceedings to determine how decedents’ estates subject to the laws of this state are to be administered, expended and distributed. The court has concurrent jurisdiction of any other action or proceeding concerning a succession or to which an estate, through a personal representative, may be a party, including actions to determine title to property alleged to belong to the estate, and of any action or proceeding in which property distributed by a personal representative or its value is sought to be subjected to rights of creditors or successors of the decedent.
This and other sections of Article III contemplate a non-judicial officer who will act on informal application and a judge who will hear and decide formal petitions. See Section 1-307 which permits the judge to perform or delegate the functions of the Registrar. However, the primary purpose of Article III is to describe functions to be performed by various public officials, rather than to prescribe how these responsibilities should be assigned within a given state or county. Hence, any of several alternatives to the organizational scheme assumed for purposes of this draft would be acceptable.
For example, a state might assign responsibility for maintenance of probate files and records, and for receiving and acting upon informal applications, to existing, limited power probate offices. Responsibility for hearing and deciding formal petitions would then be assigned to the court of general jurisdiction of each county or district.
If separate courts or offices are not feasible, it may be preferable to concentrate authority for allocating responsibility respecting formal and informal proceedings in the judge. To do so helps fix responsibility for the total operation of the office. This is the assumption of this draft.
It will be up to each adopting state to select the organizational arrangement which best meets its needs.

If the office with jurisdiction to hear and decide formal petitions is the county or district court of general jurisdiction, there will be little basis for objection to the broad statement of concurrent jurisdiction of this section. However, if a more specialized “estates” court is used, there may be pressure to prevent it from hearing negligence and other actions involving jury trials, even though it may be given unlimited power to decide other cases to which a personal representative is a party. A system for certifying matters involving jury trials to the general trial court could be provided, although the alternative of permitting the estates court to empanel juries where necessary might not be unworkable. In any event, the jurisdiction of the “estates” or “probate” court in regard to negligence litigation would only be concurrent with that of the general trial court. The important point is that the estates court, whatever it is called, should have unlimited power to hear and finally dispose of all matters relevant to determination of the extent of the decedent’s estate and of the claims against it. The jury trial question is peripheral.
See the comment to the next section regarding adjustments which might be made in the Code by a state with a single court of general jurisdiction for each county or district. 

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