In Strouse v. Strouse, a beneficiary sued an executor of an estate for breach of fiduciary duty. No. 4:16cv707, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155630 (E.D. Tex. September 27, 2016). Federal district courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and may hear only those cases authorized by a federal statute, the Constitution, or U.S. treaty. Subject matter jurisdiction in federal court is generally conferred through either: (1) federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §1331; or (2) diversity of citizenship jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §1332. The court sua sponte entertained whether it had jurisdiction in this case.
The court noted that the plaintiff stated no facts alleging a violation of any federal law, and “there is no subject matter jurisdiction arising from Plaintiff’s claims that Defendant, among other things, ‘neglected or refused to discharge her fiduciary duties as executor’ and ‘failed or refused to administer according to law and decedent’s will or trust.’” The court also noted that a federal court has no jurisdiction to probate a will or administer an estate: “the probate exception reserves to state probate courts the probate or annulment of a will and the administration of a decedent’s estate; it also precludes federal courts from endeavoring to dispose of property that is in the custody of a state probate court.” Id. (citing Marshall v. Marshall, 547 U.S. 293, 311-12 (2006)). After the court determined that diversity jurisdiction also did not exist, the court dismissed the case without prejudice based on a lack of jurisdiction.