Partition Actions In The Supreme Court

Partition Actions In The Supreme Court

The Surrogates' Courts should have jurisdiction over partition proceedings where a decedent's estate is involved.  While many courts hold that the Surrogates' Courts only have jurisdiction over a limited procedural aspect of a partition proceeding, other courts recognize that the Surrogate's Court could have jurisdiction over the merits of a partition proceeding, but may, perhaps unnecessarily, limit that jurisdiction to "extraordinary circumstances."  That may be such a narrow reading of the court's jurisdiction not mandated by the plain language of the specific statutory grants.  However, even if it were, that fact would appear to be irrelevant because the Legislature cannot remove from the Surrogate's Court jurisdiction that is granted by the constitution over all matter relating to the affairs of decedents and the administration of their estates. 

Furthermore, such narrow jurisdiction is not consistent with the Surrogate's Court's ever-expanding jurisdiction.  For instance, prior to the constitutional amendment, there was a trend of expanding the Surrogate's Court's jurisdiction as to partition proceedings.  Since the constitutional amendment did not remove jurisdiction that the Surrogates' Courts exercised prior to the amendment, then the Surrogates' Court still have jurisdiction over partition proceedings that involve the affairs of decedents or the administration of their estate.

With the adoption of Article 6 of the State Constitution, Section 12(d) & (e), effective September 1, 1962 and the Court of Appeals pronouncement in Matter of Piccione, 57 N.Y.2d 278, 456 N.Y.S.2d 669, 442 N.E.2d 1180 (1982), Surrogates have entertained many proceedings affecting estates in order to expedite administration of estates (See Jurisdiction After Piccione, Radigan 56 N.Y.St. B.J. 12 (1984)).  One area of jurisdiction that may need further development deals with partition proceedings.