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.