How to Probate a Washington Descendant's Estate ---
To "Do It Yourself" without a Lawyer

Personal Jurisdiction

The Court must also have legal authority so that its resolution of the case (evidenced by its Order) binds all the parties to the case — what is known as “personal jurisdiction.”  Unlike the authority for subject matter jurisdiction and most other probate issues, the law imposing personal jurisdiction comes from the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  As determined by the U.S. Supreme Court, for a Court to have personal jurisdiction over a party, the party must either:

  • Be present within the State, or
  • Have “certain minimum contacts with it such that the maintenance of the lawsuit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice,” and the party must receive fair and adequate notice of the case.  International Shoe v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945).

Side-bar: For further information regarding personal jurisdiction and a discussion of its application to the Internet and recent relevant cases (involving libel by The National Enquirer and by Hustler Magazine), see Personal Jurisdiction in Cyberspace or, more generally, In Which Court Can I Sue the Defendant?

Bottom-line: As long as all the parties to the probate have physical presence within Washington or willingly submit to the Court’s jurisdiction, a Washington Superior Court will have personal jurisdiction over the parties to your case.