TILT V. KELSEY, 207 U. S. 43 (1907)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Tilt v. Kelsey, 207 U.S. 43 (1907)

Tilt v. Kelsey

No. 18

Argued January 28, 1907

Decided October 21, 1907

207 U.S. 43


Where judicial proceedings in one state are relied upon as a defense to an assessment by the authorities of another state, a right under the Constitution of the United States is specially set up and claimed, though it was not in terms stated to be such a right.

An adjudication by the probate court that a testator was a resident of the state, though essential to the assumption of jurisdiction to grant letters testamentary, is not necessarily conclusive on the question of domicil, nor even evidence of it in a collateral proceeding, and, under the full faith and credit clause of the federal Constitution, is not binding upon the courts of another state.

In respect to the settlement of successions to property on death, the states are sovereign, and may give to their courts the authority to determine finally as against all the world all questions which arise therein, subject to applicable constitutional limitations.

Where the decree of the probate court is final and bars all persons having claims against the estate, the courts of another state must, under the full faith and credit clause of the federal Constitution, give similar force and effect to such a decree, when rendered by a court having jurisdiction to probate the will and administer the estate, and held that such a final decree in New Jersey was a bar in the courts of another state against the taxing authorities of the latter state attempting to enforce a claim for inheritance tax on the ground that the testator was at the time of his death domiciled therein.

182 N.Y. 557 reversed.

This is a writ of error from this Court to the Surrogates' Court of the County and State of New York to review a judgment entered in that court in pursuance of an order of the Court of Appeals of that state. The judgment assessed a succession tax upon the personal estate of Albert Tilt, deceased, upon the ground that he was, at the time of his death, a resident of the State of New York. Before the assessment of the tax, the estate of Tilt, who died testate, was fully administered in

Page 207 U. S. 44

the courts of New Jersey, where the will was probated. In the course of the administration, all the personal property, after paying debts, taxes, and charges of administration, was distributed by the executors to the beneficiaries under the will. A reversal of the judgment of the surrogates' court is sought for the reason that it did not give full faith and credit to the judicial proceedings of the State of New Jersey, as required by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

Page 207 U. S. 46

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