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Court Decides Will Jurisdiction Issue


The testator died in November 15, 1955. After almost two and a half years , a Petition for Probate of Will dated November 12, 1955, which was allegedly destroyed after the death of the former, was filed on April 23, 1958. The petition alleged that the testator is a resident of the City of Belize, British Honduras, Central America. Thereafter, a supplemental petition was lodged setting forth the transactions and proceedings with the New York State Tax Commission which informed the petitioner that the testator had been a resident of New York County. Thus, the amended petition provided that the testator was either a resident of the County of New York, State of New York or City of Belize, British Honduras, Central America.

A New York Probate Lawyer said Section 249-t of the Tax Law of this City provides for the protection of State’s interest with respect to tax receivable, thus, the State Tax Commission, shall be, in all original proceedings for letters testamentary in the estate of a non-resident decedent, shall be impleaded as a necessary party. However, it did not take an active part. Conflicting allegations arises as the other party contende that the testator is a domicile of British Honduras whereas the Attorney General of the State of New York and a special guardian of infant (an heir) contended New York as his domicile.

However, this Court has jurisdiction over the matter whether the decedent was domiciled here or being a non resident he died without the State leaving personal property within this county.

This Court finding the preliminary issue of domicile as expensive and dilatory rule that the most important issue to resolve at this point is the genuineness and validity of the Will itself.

Challenging the jurisdiction of the Court, the movant mentioned that the estate of the decedent at the time of his death is valued at 3,500,000.00 and were held in custody of British Honduras, State of New York, State of Illinois and Province of Quebec, Canada. Manhattan Probate Lawyers said the estate administration was likewise given to the Court appointed administrator of the intangible personalty in New York which were in custody of the Public Administrator of the County of New York as temporary administrator who likewise reported that New York brokerage was indebted to the decedent in the amount of $73,177.58; there was a deposit in the bank $6,343.39, another firm owed the decedent $10,566.07 and the existence of securities valued at $1,532,692.87 all physically located in New York County.

All the securities were sold by the temporary administrator pursuant to Section 127, Surrogate’s Court Act and the proceeds of which were invested in bonds of the United States, the State of New York and the City of New York which were held in fiduciary under the supervision of this Court.

There is a pending probate proceedings in British Honduras where the decedent is domiciled. The authority of the Surrogate on the estate litigation was long been recognized long before the enactment of any statute governing ancillary probate which must be read in connection with the general statutes which specify the wills that may be probated and the procedure governing the probate in connection with the long established authority of the Surrogate to probate wills, both domestic and foreign. But this was limit in one respect construing Section 159 of the Surrogate Court Act which provides that “a complete scheme for establishing within the state wills duly probated in other countries. New York has elected to give effect to such a decree, admitting a will of personal property to probate’.

Queens Probate Lawyers report that the testator is domiciled in British Honduras. In Sections 21 to 24 of the Decedents Estate Law, a will of non-resident may be admitted to probate in this state if it complies with the requirements of one of those sections and if there is property here. Without limiting the right to probate to any such will, a limitation in a procedurral aspect has been implied from Section 129 of the Surrogate Court Act stating that in an estate where the will has been duly admitted to probate in the testator’s domicile that will must be accepted for ancillary probate here without right of independent contest.

There was no dispute over the nature of the proceedings which have been conducted in British Honduras wherein the Will dated May 10, 1918 was admitted to probate at which the letter testamentary was granted to one of the beneficiaries for the period of twelve months or until a latter will is found.

Relating to an instant case, an action was instituted before the Supreme Court of British Honduras, Probate Side, praying the revocation of letters testamentay and admit the Will dated November 12, 1955. After the decision in said case, the appeal was taken to the Privy Council in England and is still pending for resolution.

Therefore, In view of the foregoing, this Court denies the said motion.

A conflict between heirs arises if the person died testate and has various residences. Likewise, a dispute for that matter can be severed if the decedent’s domicile is unknown or cannot be made certain. Additionally, conflicting issues develops if the law on probate of will, estate litigation and estate administration differs from where the decedent is domiciled and actually resides. These matters can cause the parties unpleasant emotions thus relationship among families is ruined. Do you need an experienced lawyer? To help you out, call Stephen Bilkis and Associates and rest assured an expert shall wholeheartedly accommodate and assist you. A qualified lawyer shall help you analyze the legal action for an extrajudicial or judicial settlement of the estate in order to save family relationships and avoid prolong litigation in Court engendered by wrong appeal on wrong tribunal.

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