Trusts and Estates

Ca. Trs. & Estates Quarterly 2016, Volume 22, Issue 2

BIEN-VENIE: COMMENCING TRUST-RELATED LITIGATION IN THE PROPER COUNTY

By Bryan L. Phipps, Esq.*

I. INTRODUCTION

Determining venue for litigation concerning the internal affairs of a trust is ordinarily straightforward: actions are filed in the county in which the principal place of administration of the trust is located. In most trust-related litigation cases, this is where the analysis ends. For others, though, the analysis must continue.

The petitioner who files an internal-trust proceeding might also try to include trust-related matters that are not internal-trust disputes and thus could be brought as separate petitions under the Probate Code. Alternatively, that petitioner might try to include causes of action or claims that are not governed by the Probate Code at all. In the former case, notwithstanding that the petitioner attempted to bring all trust-related matters with a single pleading before the Probate Court, the parties might find themselves in effect dealing with multiple petitions, each with its own venue rule, a fact the court might consider when determining venue. In the latter case involving non-probate issues, the parties might find themselves faced with multiple causes of action that are governed by venue statutes that are concurrently applicable and contradictory. In such an instance, a determination regarding venue might have to be considered under the mixed action rule. And while the mixed action rule is ordinarily dispositive for disputes of that nature, it is not without exception.

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