Bar News - April 16, 2014
Court News: What Cases Belong on Trust Docket?
By: Dan Wise
Earlier this month, the Probate Division of the Circuit Court issued administrative rules for the new trust docket and posted a fillable form for requests for reassignment to the docket on the court’s website.
Instructions for filing a request are set forth in the “Request for Reassignment” form. Consult Administrative Order 2014-13 for a link to the form.
At the March 26 meeting of the Elder Law, Estate Planning & Probate Section, Judge Gary Cassavechia, Deputy Circuit Court Administrative Judge David King and newly hired Circuit Court staff attorney Beth Kissinger discussed the trust docket and answered questions. Assigning more involved cases to one judge’s docket will, the Circuit Court hopes, ease scheduling issues for all judges handling probate cases.
So far, nine cases are on the docket, said King. Cassavechia said he hopes there will be a 12- to 18-month turnaround time for these cases to be filed, tried and decided.
Cassavechia is being assisted by Kissinger and Denise Pearl, a court monitor who will also provide administrative support for the trust docket. Decisions on which cases are assigned to the trust docket will depend on a variety of factors, including: legal complexity or ambiguity of the issues; multitude of probate documents involved; number of parties, particularly if they have diverse interests; complicated tax questions or potential consequences; and whether the litigation is expected to require a trial of more than a few hours. Other potential factors include whether there is a “critical need” for fast resolution of the case and whether the parties are involved in related litigation in other courts, state or federal.
Cases are assigned to the trust docket by order of the Administrative Judge upon his discretion; reassignments can be requested by the parties or by the probate division judge originally assigned to the case. Parties are not required to respond to requests for reassignment.
Trust docket cases will normally be heard at the 7th Circuit – Probate Division in Dover; very brief hearings may be scheduled by videoconference or teleconference with advance notice.
Judge Cassavechia returned to his duties full-time in early April, following a brief hospitalization. Judge Cassavechia extends his gratitude for the aid provided when he fell ill last month, and for the many expressions of support he’s received since then.
Visit the Probate Division pages at www.courts.state.nh.us for the reassignment form and other information.