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The Probate Exception: We’re Not Just in State Court Anymore

When federal diversity jurisdiction is possible

The probate exception to federal diversity jurisdiction historically had been an effective bar to keeping estate and trust practitioners out of the federal courts. In the 1946 landmark decision of Markham v. Allen,1 the U.S. Supreme Court held that the federal courts couldn’t “interfere with the probate proceedings.”2 For the next six decades, the federal courts broadly interpreted that language to decline to exercise jurisdiction in cases that seemed to touch


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