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Court Looks at Proper Jurisdiction for Estate Administration Issue


The case is being heard in the Surrogates Court of New York County. The motion before the court is made on behalf of the widow and minor child of the testator to dismiss the petition for probate in the interest of justice on the ground that a French forum would be convenient and a New York probate would be inconvenient.

In the petition for probate it is stated that the assets of the estate are between $200,000 and $300,000. However, during oral argument for the estate the estate is said to be worth between one and two million dollars.

Case Discussion

A New York Probate Lawyer said the issue before the court is whether probate jurisdiction should be exercised in New York or if the original jurisdiction of probate should be dismissed so that proceedings to administer the estate may be conducted in either Switzerland or France where the bulk of the decedent’s assets are located.

The intestate distributees of the decedent under the laws of the state of New York are his widow and their 7 year old child. The decedent passed away on the 28th of May, 1972, and executed a will in New York City on the 16th of October, 1970. This will is offered for probate by two individuals who are not distributees of the will.

The petitioner is nominated in the will as a co-executor and has filed a renunciation. In the propounded instrument the testator stated that he lived in New York, New York. While it is clear that the decedent was born in the United States and therefore an American citizen, it is also clear that he no longer maintained a home in the United States and that is home at the time he passed away was in France.

When the testator passed away he had a substantial amount of real and personal property in France and also had personal property in the form of Swiss money in amounts well over a million dollars located in Swiss banks. Bronx Probate Lawyers said the total estate resources in the state of New York consist of less than a thousand dollars in an account in a branch of a Chase Manhattan Bank located in Queens, County.

Court Decision

The petitioners for probate in this case contend that the decedent did not ever intend to change his domicile to France. However, this contention directly contradicts the probate petition that alleges that domicile is in fact in France.

Brooklyn Probate Lawyers said it is quite clear that although the decedent maintained an apartment in New York to be used for business matters and also maintained a bank account in the states, it is quite evident that the decedent was domiciled in France with his wife and son.

After reviewing all of the facts and evidence that have been provided in this case, it is quite evident that the petition for probate should be dismissed. The matter shall be moved for probate in a forum that is more appropriate either in France or Switzerland where the majority of the assets of the estate are held.

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