The administration of an estate in New York requires that the Court find that it has jurisdiction to consider the matter being presented to it. Whether the case involves the probate of a Last Will and Testament or the settlement of an intestate estate, the Surrogate’s Court must be satisfied that it has the requisite contacts to accept the matter for determination. Such a decision is controlled by the issue of domicile, since the Court has jurisdiction over a New York domiciliary at the time of death.
Determining domicile is not always easy. Simply stated, domicile is the place where a person has a permanent home as opposed to a person’s residence. There can be many residences for a decedent but only one place of domicile. An individual’s intention is an essential part of finding out where a decedent’s domicile is located and the Surrogate’s Court typically reviews many factors along with the applicable laws and rules. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published many articles regarding estate settlement and domicile.
The complexity involved in determining a decedent’s domicile is shown in a recent Orange County estate case decided by Orange County Surrogate Timothy McElduff on July 20, 2021 entitled Matter of Estate of Matarazzo. In this case, the decedent died in 2020. She had lived for many years in Malverne, New York, but sold her New York home in 2015 and then went to live with a son in New Jersey. However, she used the address of another son in Greenwood Lake, New York to receive correspondence and file New York tax returns. In 2018, the decedent began to reside in a senior center in Pennsylvania, where she continued to reside until her death in 2020.