Determining the domicile of a patient with dementia


As noted in the June 2021 installment of this column, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has indicated that it intends to audit individuals who file their 2020 or 2021 tax returns. reflecting a change of domicile from New York State. While each case depends on its own particular facts, the central question in determining whether a person has moved is whether that person intends and took steps consistent with that intention. The recent surrogate court case Matarazzo estate case, No. 2021-55 (Sur. Ct., Orange County, July 20, 2021), determines whether a person with dementia can form the requisite intent to change domicile. Interestingly, the question arose not in the context of a personal income tax audit, but in the context of a probate proceeding.

In Matarazzo, a son (GM) had asked the court to homologate the alleged will of the deceased in New York. However, the other son (JM) decided to dismiss the petition on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction, claiming the deceased was domiciled in New Jersey (where a different so-called will was in probate). The facts were largely undisputed between the parties.

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