Posted On: April 5, 2012 by Stephen Bilkis

Court Determines if it has Proper Jurisdiction for Probate

In this case, the only issue that has to be determined by the court is whether or not it has jurisdiction to entertain the probate of the decedent’s last will and testament.

The facts of the case state that the decedent was a resident of New York when he executed his last will and testament. The said will was executed in New York on March 24, 1974 and the executor assigned is also from New York. A few months after the will was executed and during the same year, the testator was removed from his residence in New York by his niece because he needed personal care and attention due to old age and sickness. From New York the decedent was then transferred to the place of residence of the niece which is in Pennsylvania. The following year, the niece was able to get an appointment as guardian of the decedent from a court in Pennsylvania based on the fact that the decedent then is already incompetent. The guardian later removed all the personal properties in New York leaving only the house owned by the decedent as the only estate left in New York.

A New York Probate Lawyer said that upon the death of the decedent, the named executor in the will sent to the guardian the copy of the will executed by the decedent. The lawyer of the guardian wrote back and stated in the letter that the guardian had already applied for letters of administration and that his client treats the said will as invalid. The court of Pennsylvania later on also issued the letters of administration applied for by the guardian. This started the will contest between the parties.

The named executor proceeded to apply for the adjudication of the will in New York and in the process, the court by means of citations, tried to get the side of the guardian including two more persons as heirs or assigns, on why the will should not be admitted. The guardian for her part stated that the decedent is no longer a resident of New York because Pennsylvania is already his residence and a court of the said State has already issued the applied for letters of administration in favour the guardian. A Staten Island Probate Lawyer said that in view of such, the court of New York has no jurisdiction to initiate estate administration or to conduct any hearing connected to the properties of the decedent.

In ruling upon this petition of the executor, the court said that there was irregularity in the position taken by the guardian. This is evidenced by the fact that when she applied for the estate administration of the decedent’s properties, the court in Pennsylvania was not informed that there exists a real property in New York. The said court was in effect made to decide only on the representation supplied by the guardian and was not given all the information it needed to know all the facts fully. Long Island Probate Lawyers said that in applying for letters of administration, the guardian stated in her application that the real property of the decedent is located in Pennsylvania and not New York.

The court also noted that the guardian knew of the existence of the will and she did not bring it to the attention of the Pennsylvania court and that consequently, no estate litigation in relation to the said will has been initiated and that the actual domicile of the decedent has also not been the subject of any contest in any court. Based on the above determinations, the court ruled that it has jurisdiction to accept the application for probate of the said will and this will also carry the power to determine the issue about the decedent’s domicile.

It is highly irregular but at the same time normal for some people to take interest in other people’s properties especially when the owner is already old and weak. As shown in this case, having a will that is executed with the assistance of a skilled attorney is beneficial. Without experienced legal counsel helping in the case, people who should have nothing to do with the will may end up getting the estate of the decedent. Stephen Bilkins and Associates will help you make sure that the will of the testator is effectively stated and later on protected.