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Jurisdiction Issue Decided


A testator was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York but after he got married, he lived with his wife in Florida. Later, the testator and his wife resided in Phoenix, Arizona. While they resided in Phoenix, Arizona, the testator’s wife died. It was around April 2004 that he executor his will in Arizona.

The testator first executed a trust in favor of his grandson. In his will, he left his entire estate to the trust he created. He named his grandson the sole beneficiary of his trust.

A year after he created the trust and executed his will the testator called his sister asking her to come and get him from Phoenix, Arizona because he wanted to go back and live in Brooklyn with her. At that time the testator was ninety-five years old and he had heart disease. He told his sister that he wanted to change his will. So before he boarded the airplane bound for Brooklyn, New York, he and his sister went by the office of a lawyer where he changed the beneficiary of his 2004 will and trust. He gave his sister the principal of the trust, he gave his granddaughter 3/8 of the trust and his grandson 1/8 of the trust. He also named his sister as his health care proxy. After signing the documents in the Arizona lawyer’s office, he insisted on boarding the airplane to New York immediately.

On that same day, a New York Probate Lawyer said the grandson filed an action to be named as conservator and guardian of his grandfather, the testator. He claims that he was bodily taken from his house. The Surrogate Court of Arizona named him temporary guardian of his grandfather.

Hours after the testator arrived in New York, he was hospitalized. He needed emergency surgery for a blood clot in his leg. His sister’s daughter filed a petition in the Surrogate Court of New York to be appointed guardian over her granduncle. The lawyer in Arizona who created the latest will of the testator in 2005 prior to his departure from Arizona was summoned by the Arizona court to present the testator before the Arizona court. The lawyer appeared in the Arizona court and presented an affidavit executed by the testator to the effect that he was domiciled in Brooklyn, New York and that his address was his sister’s address.

In the meantime, the Surrogate Court in New York sent a court evaluator to the hospital room of the testator to determine if a guardian should be appointed for him. The testator died on December 4, 2005. The sister filed a motion for the probate of the testator’s 2005 will in New York. The clerk of the court accepted the petition but did not assign it a file number pending the submission of proof of domicile. When the lawyer filed a copy of the affidavit executed by the testator attesting that his domicile was New York, the clerk assigned a file number to the petition for probate around December 14 or 16, 2005.

The grandson of the testator from Arizona appeared and objected to the probate of the 2005 will on the ground that he had filed a petition for probate of the 2004 will of the testator in Arizona. According to the grandson, a Staten Island Probate Lawyer said the prior action filed in Arizona precludes the Surrogate Court of New York from hearing the probate of the 2005 will of the testator.

Westchester County Probate Lawyers said the only question before the Court was whether or not the Surrogate Court of New York may hear the probate petition of the testator’s will. The Court resolved the question in favor of jurisdiction of the New York Court. The probate petition in New York pre-dated the filing of the probate proceedings in Arizona.

Filing a probate petition? You need the assistance of a King’s County Probate Lawyer. The King’s County Probate Lawyers from Stephen Bilkis and Associates are ready and willing to assist you in presenting evidence and arguing for the probate of the will. Speak to the King’s County Probate Attorneys of Stephen Bilkis and Associates at any of their offices in King’s County.

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