Markham v. Allen
326 U.S. 490 (1946)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Markham v. Allen, 326 U.S. 490 (1946)

Markham v. Allen

No. 60

Argued December 5, 1945

Decided January 7, 1946

326 U.S. 490

Syllabus

1. A federal district court has jurisdiction of a suit by the Alien Property Custodian against an executor and resident heirs to determine the Custodian's asserted right to share in the decedent's estate which is in course of probate administration in a state court. Pp. 326 U. S. 491, 326 U. S. 496.

2. While a federal court has no jurisdiction to probate a will or administer an estate, it does have jurisdiction to entertain suits to establish claims against a decedent's estate so long as it does not interfere with the probate proceedings or assume general jurisdiction of the probate or control of the property in the custody of the state court. P. 326 U. S. 494.

Page 326 U. S. 491

3. While a federal court may not disturb or affect the possession of property in the custody of a state court, it may adjudicate rights in such property when the final judgment does not interfere with the state court's possession save to the extent that the state court is bound by the judgment to recognize the right adjudicated by the federal court. P. 326 U. S. 494.

4. Where the effect of a judgment of a federal court is to leave undisturbed the orderly administration of a decedent's estate in a state probate court but to decree a right in property to be distributed after administration, this is not an exercise of probate jurisdiction or an interference with property in the possession or custody of a state court. P. 326 U. S. 495.

5. A federal district court properly exercised its discretion in entertaining a suit by the Alien Property Custodian to determine his right to share in a decedent's estate in course of probate administration in a state court, even though the suit involved issues of state law; because § 17 of the Trading with the Enemy Act specially confers on the federal courts jurisdiction to enter all such orders and decrees as may be necessary and proper to enforce the provisions of the Act, and this indicates that Congress has adopted the policy of permitting the Custodian to proceed in the federal courts to enforce his rights, whether they depend on state or federal law. P. 326 U. S. 495.

147 F.2d 136, reversed.

Certiorari, 325 U.S. 846, to review reversal of a judgment of a district court (52 F.Supp. 850) allowing a claim of the Alien Property Custodian against a decedent's estate.

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