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In a proceeding in New Jersey, the validity of a transaction in a foreign state, except one involving title to land or the validity of a divorce, is, by virtue of New Jersey's conflict of laws principles, made to depend upon the laws of such state, the foreign law to be applied is the law applicable to the matter in hand and not the conflict of laws of the foreign state.
Decedent Joseph Damto, a resident of New Jersey when he died, had opened two bank accounts in Florida that were in decedent's name and were listed as being in trust for respondent son, Philip Damato. Appellant executor asked the trial court for instructions as to the disposition of these accounts. The trial court held that the law of Florida applied. Thus, the balances of the savings accounts were to be paid to respondent, as he was named on the accounts. Appellant contended that the trial court erroneously took judicial notice of the law of Florida, notwithstanding the failure of respondent to comply with the provisions of N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:82-27, resulting in an erroneous application of the substantive law of Florida rather than its conflict of laws.
Under the circumstances, did the trial court erroneously apply the substantive law of Florida?
The court disagreed with appellant’s contentions and affirmed the judgment of the trial court. Appellant was on notice that Florida law was being considered by the trial court. The trial court properly determined that in Florida the creation of an inter vivos trust in money was governed by the law of the situs of the money. The substantive law of Florida was properly applied, rather than its conflict of laws. Thus, respondent was the recipient of the two savings accounts.