Surrogate Margarita Lopez Torres
Decedent was survived by respondent spouse, a child from a prior marriage and two granddaughters. Respondent filed a petition for probate of a written instrument purporting to be decedent’s last will. Movants objected to probate, arguing decedent was a resident of New Jersey when he died. They asserted decedent’s domicile in New Jersey remained unchanged after his marriage to respondent, submitting evidence of decedent’s continued and substantial contacts with New Jersey, including a driver’s license, his marriage license, and income tax returns identifying New Jersey as his residence. Respondent argued decedent changed his domicile to New York after their marriage. The court noted respondent’s claim that jurisdiction should lie with this court as a matter of her convenience was irrelevant, finding the limited documentary evidence submitted in opposition to the instant objections was “insubstantial.” It stated decedent’s testamentary declaration of residence was entitled to deference, ruling respondent failed to meet her burden of showing decedent intended to, or changed his domicile to, New York. The court found decedent was a domiciliary of New Jersey at the date of his death, granting dismissal of the petition for probate.