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Did You Know That a New York Estate Filing Depends on the Decedent’s Domicile

After a person dies it is necessary to determine whether it is necessary to file a Surrogate’s Court proceeding.  Such filing would be in the form of either a Probate Proceeding or an Administration Proceeding.  The Surrogate’s Courts are located in the various counties in New York.  For example, there is the Brooklyn Surrogate’s Court, a Manhattan Surrogate’s Court and a Queens Surrogate’s Court.

An initial inquiry regarding a decedent’s estate concerns whether or not the person was a New York domiciliary.  Domicile is commonly known as the place where a person has a permanent home.  While a person may have a number of different residential addresses, he has only one domicile.

Domicile is important because it typically determines the local law that controls the disposition of an estate.  The New York Courts usually do not accept a case for filing absent a New York domicile or the presence of the decedent’s property in New York.  The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published a number of articles concerning domicile and estates.

A recent Staten Island estate case entitled Matter of Estate of Grunwald demonstrates various problems that can arise due to a domicile issue.  In Grunwald, Richmond County Surrogate Matthew Titone was presented with a motion to transfer an estate case.  The estate executor asserted that the decedent was a domiciliary of Staten Island.  However, the decedent’s granddaughter claimed that the decedent was domiciled in Poland and that the only New York connection was real estate owned by the decedent in Brooklyn.  Therefore, the granddaughter claimed that the estate should be handled in the Surrogate’s Court in Kings County.

The Court noted that the determination of domicile was based upon many factors such as where the decedent voted and filed taxes.  Since there were many factual disputes, the Court decided that a hearing was needed to see if the decedent was a New York domiciliary.

I have represented clients in Administration and Probate cases throughout New York City and surrounding counties.  The determination of domicile can be complicated.  Sometimes, the Court will rely on an affidavit that shows the contacts the deceased person had with the State.  If you have a question or issue concerning an estate regarding Administration or Probate, call me now for a free discussion.  We offer reasonable and flexible fee arrangements.

New York Trusts and Estates Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years resolve issues relating to probate and estate settlement throughout New York State including Nassau County and the Bronx.   If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.

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