When a person dies and the initial steps are taken to administer his estate, one of the first issues to be resolved is the domicile of the decedent. Domicile is an interesting topic and the determination of domicile can be very complicated. Essentially, it is the place where a person maintains a permanent and principal home to which he intends to return. A person may have many residences but only one place of domicile.
For many aspects of estate administration domicile will determine which state’s laws apply to a decedent. This determination can affect the rights of the various parties who have an interest in the estate and also which local tax laws can be applied. An example is when a New York domiciliary dies, his Will is typically probated in New York and the New York estate and probate laws are looked to regarding estate administration.
Estate litigation can arise when an individual’s domicile is unclear. While this issue can be determined by examining many factors such as where the decedent filed his local taxes or had a driver’s license, or the number of days per year spent in a certain state, the ultimate determination can be time consuming. New York Estate lawyers deal with such matters regularly.
The problems that arise from multi-state contacts were recently discussed in a Manhattan Estate case decided by Manhattan Surrogate Rita Mella on October 12, 2018. In Matter of Bronsky, the decedent left a Last Will that was originally filed for probate by the decedent’s brother in New York. The petition asserted that the decedent was a New York domiciliary. However, the decedent’s surviving spouse then filed for probate in Arizona claiming that the decedent was a domiciliary of Arizona. The surviving spouse also objected to the New York probate. The parties each sought dismissal of the other’s proceedings in the Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan. The Court determined that in view of the decedent’s ownership of real estate in New York and other factors the Court would accept original jurisdiction for purposes of probating the Will in New York. Although the Court dismissed the spouse’s objections to the New York proceedings, it made no determination regarding the decedent’s domicile.
I have represented many individuals in probate and intestate administration cases where issues concerning domicile have arisen. If you have a question or concern regarding an estate call me now for a free review. We have 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 City including Queens 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.