We are one of the most active estate and trust law firms in Southern California, but we can’t accept every client that contacts our office. We only work in California courts, so if your case falls under the jurisdiction of another state, we can’t help. Instead, we refer you to an attorney in that other state. It’s not always easy determining which state has jurisdiction over estate and trust matters. We were contacted by someone in Virginia that wanted our help with her uncle’s trust. Her uncle lived in Los Angeles, he had a house in Los Angeles, and his bank accounts were in Los Angeles. He even died in Los Angeles. So naturally the caller figured the proper jurisdiction was Los Angeles, California. In fact, she spoke with a few attorneys in Virginia, and they all agreed with her.

Her uncle’s trust was being administered by a friend in Seattle, Washington. Since we were dealing with a trust issue, and not a probate estate, the Virginia caller was very surprised to learn we couldn’t help because jurisdiction was in Settle. She was in such denial, she contacted me three separate times to make sure I had it right. I tried to explain. Trusts don’t die. They are living instruments managed by the Trustee. So it only makes sense that jurisdiction over the trust is wherever the trust is being administered by the trustee. Besides, it’s not uncommon for settlors to fund their trusts with real property and financial accounts located in multiple states. So when you’re looking for an attorney to help with a trust matter, make sure the proper court jurisdiction is ascertained before getting too involved with the case. You will likely have to change attorneys if the court’s jurisdiction is in another state.