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The Delaware Court of Chancery has a solid reputation for its well-reasoned decisions on corporate law.1 Most rules governing the relationship between management, board of directors and shareholders of the largest U.S. corporations were written by that court.

The chancellors put this understanding of financial transactions to appropriate use in exercising their jurisdiction over trusts. As already noted, the court does not exercise continuing jurisdiction over a trust. It takes jurisdiction only by petition, and then relinquishes jurisdiction.

Because the court is not backed up with routine administrative matters, like court accountings, its calendar is small. In essence, cases can be handled expeditiously with a greater efficiency and lower cost than in other jurisdictions.

As a result, the Delaware system of trust and estate administration is significantly more efficient than other states, making it advantageous for most nonresidents to have their will probated and estate settled in Delaware.

Note: The will of a nonresident who owns real or personal property in Delaware can be admitted to original probate in Delaware as if he were a resident.2 This would not alter a decedent’s inheritance and estate tax obligations, but it may save probate, legal and administrative costs by avoiding estate administration in the state of residence.3

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Footnotes

  1. See a discussion of Delaware’s Court of Chancery in, Gruson, "Tiny Delaware’s Corporate Clout," The New York Times, Sunday, June 1, 1986, at 6F.
  2. 12 Del.C. §1307.
  3. For example, fees of executors and attorneys in Delaware are set by the Court of Chancery at a comparatively low rate. Chancery Rule 192.