Where Does the Decedent Live?

The first issue that must be met to probate a will in New Jersey is the domicile of the decedent.  A domicile is more than a home.  It is the location where the decedent intended to be his fixed home.  It is easy to imagine many people who have several homes in other states that they use for vacation and so on.  However, each person only has one diomicile.  It is the intent of the decedent that counts.

States will sometimes fight over the location of the place of domicile when estate or transfer taxes are being determined.  Facts looked at to determine location of domicile will most often include the following considerations:

  • Voting records
  • Driver's license address
  • Address set forth in the will
  • Length of time spent in each state
  • Decedent's place of work
  • Address on Form 1040 income tax
  • Location where the decedent died and was buried
  • Any other fact that may tend to prove the intent of the decedent.

 

In later comments we will discuss the issue of capacity of the decedent.  This usually refers to the mental ability of the deceased to understand the estate and who the heirs will be pursuant to the terms of the will.  The issue of capacity has been discussed in New Jersey courts in relation to the ability of an incapacitated person to change their domicile.  Since the issue is one of intent, a person has to be capable of choosing a new domicile before it will be found by the court.  Matter of Jacobs, 315 N.J. Super 189 (CH.Div.1998). 

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