The Domicile of a Decedent Can Affect Estate Settlement

Estate-Settlement-300x200The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published many articles concerning estate settlement.  Factors that can affect a New York estate are enumerable.  In the first instance, a determination must be made as to whether a Last Will and Testament needs to be probated.  If no Will exists, than an intestate administration must be commenced.  Different aspects and procedures apply to these types of proceedings and the filings which are required by the Surrogate’s Court.  Also, the rights of potential estate beneficiaries are determined either by the provisions of a Will or the statutory inheritance directives in the Estates Powers and Trusts Law Section 4-1.1 entitled “Decent and distribution of a decedent’s estate.”

Another very important consideration affecting all estates concerns the issue of which jurisdiction’s laws control matters regarding estate administration.  The topic referred to is known as “domicile.”  Domicile is basically a determination of the place where a person or decedent has their primary home.  A person may have many residences but can have only one domicile.  This Probate Blog has published previous posts concerning this issue.

For example, a person who dies and has a New York domicile will have his estate controlled by the laws of New York, for the most part.  Determining a person’s domicile is not always easy.  Someone may have an apartment or house in New York and also Florida, or another state or country.  Domicile is a matter of where a person intends to have his primary home.  However, there are a number of independent factors which go into the determination, such as where a person filed local taxes, the location of their employment, where their car was registered and driver’s license was issued.

Domicile needs to be determined because estate laws such as a spousal right of election and intestate distribution and other substantive issues regarding an estate are controlled by the statutes of a decedent’s domicile.  One anomaly regarding jurisdiction over estate matters relates to real estate.  Issues concerning the disposition of real estate are controlled by the laws of the jurisdiction where the real estate is located.

Not only is a determination of domicile important for estate administration, someone’s domicile should be examined and taken into consideration when developing estate planning documents.  Obviously, the disposition of an individual’s estate and the rules and procedures which are going to apply to the documents and their implementation are important to know in order to have an effective estate plan.

A recent article which appeared in the New York Law Journal on November 7, 2023, written by David I. Faust, Esq., entitled Globalization and Blurred Borders, Part One:  Succession, contains a good analysis of many of the items referred to in the preceding paragraphs.

I have been representing individuals in estate matters in New York and estate planning for over forty (40) years.  Call Me Now for a free confidential review if you have a question or issue regarding an estate.  Guardianship matters may also have domicile or jurisdiction problems.  We provide personal and confidential consultations and reasonable and flexible fee arrangements.

New York Trusts and Estates Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 40 years resolve issues relating to guardianship and probate and estate settlement throughout New York City including the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Nassau and Suffolk County.  If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial free consultation.

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