The limited nature of subject matter jurisdiction in the New York State’s Surrogate’s Court can sometimes cause confusion, especially when trying to assess the outer limits of the court’s power. The Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) §§201 and 202 seek to statutorily define the jurisdiction of the Surrogate’s Court; however, in practice, the actual extension of the court’s jurisdiction may be much more fact-specific. This article explores the jurisdiction of the Surrogate’s Court and its historical roots.1

Historical Background

Originally, the Surrogate’s jurisdiction was very limited. Questions often arose as to whether particular matters were within the Surrogate’s jurisdiction to decide. Due to this uncertainty, Surrogates were extremely careful about the jurisdiction they assumed and would generally err on the side of caution. For example, in discovery proceedings, the predecessor to what is now SCPA 2103 (a proceeding by a fiduciary to discover property withheld or to obtain information), envisioned a replevy action, and the Surrogate would usually not take jurisdiction over a fiduciary’s attempts to discover real property, insurance proceeds, or contract actions. There was also a long-standing decision by the Legislature to exclude jurisdiction over inter-vivos trusts. Indeed, inter-vivos continued to be excluded when the SCPA was originally enacted in 1966.2

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]