Davidson County Probate Court has Subject Matter Jurisdiction over Estate when Decedent moved from PA to Davidson County, TN, Assisted Living Three (3) Weeks prior to Death

Louis Dell’ Aquila (the “Decedent”) died at the age of 86 on October 3, 2017, in a Davidson County, Tennessee, assisted living center after having resided in Pennsylvania for most of his life.  On October 5, 2017, the Decedent’s son David Dell’ Aquila (the “Petitioner”) filed a Petition for Letters Testamentary in the Davidson County, Tennessee, Probate Court.  The Decedent’s daughter opened an estate in Pennsylvania.  The Pennsylvania Court ruled that it would take no further action in the Decedent’s probate matter until the Davidson County Probate Court determined the Decedent’s domicile at the time of his death.  After a four-day evidentiary hearing, the Davidson County Probate Court entered an order providing that the Decedent established his domicile in Tennessee when he relocated to Tennessee in September 2017, approximately three (3) weeks prior to his death.  The Decedent’s daughter appealed.

Tenn. Code Ann. § 32-2-101 provides that “wills shall be proved and recorded and letters testamentary granted in the probate court of the county where the testator had the testator’s usual residence at the time of the testator’s death […]”

Because the Decedent attempted to bring his wife with him to Tennessee, attempted to sell all of his personal property prior to moving to Tennessee, and indicated to many witnesses that he never intended to return to Pennsylvania, the Court of Appeals held that the Decedent intended to abandon his domicile in Pennsylvania and establish a domicile in Tennessee. Therefore, the Decedent was domiciled in Tennessee on the date of his death and the Davidson County, Tennessee Probate Court had subject matter jurisdiction over the Decedent’s estate.

In Re Estate of Louis Dell’ Aquila. No. M2018-01090-COA-R3-CV. (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 25, 2019).

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