Major Litigation (LIT)
Complaints filed in the Probate Division since January 1, 2009, are filed in the Major Litigation (LIT) case type. All complaints are considered to arise from an underlying Probate Division case, such as a decedent’s estate (ADM or SEB), an intervention proceeding (INT or IDD), a foreign estate (FEP), a trust proceeding (TRP), or a proceeding in which notice has been given that a decedent had a revocable trust (NRT). The LIT case will be linked to the underlying case, and the judge assigned to the LIT case will handle the underlying case as well.
The Superior Court, Civil Division Rules apply in the Probate Division when a LIT case is opened. When the complaint is prepared, the name and address of each plaintiff and each defendant must be listed in the complaint, and each summons must contain the name and address of the defendant to whom it is addressed in the caption of the summons. When these documents are presented to the Probate Clerk’s Office for filing, that office will issue (1) a summons and (2) an Initial Order & Notice of Proposed Schedule of Events (“Initial Order”) to the plaintiff for service on each defendant named in the complaint. The complaint, summons, and Initial Order must be served on the defendants, and proof of service must be filed within 60 days from the filing date of the complaint. The defendant must file an answer to the complaint within 20 days of service.
The Probate Division issues notices of dismissal (when proof of service of the complaint is not filed) and notices of entry of default (when the defendant’s answer to the complaint is not filed). If additional time is needed to serve the complaint or to file an answer to the complaint, file a motion for an extension of time.
All parties are expected to appear at the scheduling conference, which is scheduled in the Initial Order for 90 to 120 days from the date of filing of the complaint. Each party receives a copy of the Initial Order and should review it carefully. The Initial Order outlines deadlines, such as the deadline for filing proof of service of the complaint, the last day for making discovery requests, and the deadline for filing witness lists, and includes the date of the scheduling conference. The normal deadline included in the Initial Order for completing discovery requests is 125 days from the date of filing of the complaint, so discovery should be well underway before the scheduling conference. The Court will not issue any other notices before the scheduling conference so be sure to place these important dates on your calendar.
The cost for filing a complaint in the Probate Division is $120.00 in cash or by check or money order payable to "Register of Wills."