Thursday, January 26, 2012
For the first 43 years of his life, Eldon Foote lived in Alberta. In the 1970s, he bought a home in Norfolk and he moved there. In 1999, Eldon bought a condo in Victoria, British Columbia and spent summers there in 2001, 2002, and 2003. He and his wife made scattered plans to sell the Norfolk home and move to Victoria. In 2004, he went back to Alberta because he was diagnosed with cancer. He died there in May 2004.
After his death, his children and family members argued over where he was domiciled at the time of death because that determines which law governs the administration of his $130 million estate. A person begins with a domicile of origin and then he/she can replace that with a domicile of choice when they choose to live somewhere else. The residence must be freely chosen and it must be “indefinite in its future contemplation.” To acquire a new domicile, one has to acquire a residence in a new place and have the intention of settling there. A person abandons a domicile when he/she both ceases to live there and ceases to have the intention to return.
In Foote v. Foote, the court ruled that Norfolk was Eldon’s domicile at the time of death, so Norfolk will govern the administration of the estate. The court found that the preliminary steps Eldon had taken and the intention to change his residence to Victoria did not satisfy the requirements for change of domicile. Eldon’s plans were too provisional at the time of his death.
See Stan Rule, Domicile, Rule of Law, Jan. 22, 2012.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.