Thursday, November 14, 2013

In Re Dorrance’s Estate case brief

In Re Dorrance’s Estate case brief summary
309 Pa. 151

CASE SYNOPSIS: Appellant Commonwealth of Pennsylvania sought review of a decree of the Orphans' Court of Delaware County (Pennsylvania), which set aside an appraisement of a decedent's estate for inheritance transfer tax purposes.

CASE FACTS: The Commonwealth conceded that the decedent was domiciled in another state until five years prior to his death, and appellee executors contended that the decedent was a domiciliary of the other state at the time of death.

  • In determining which of two residences was the decedent's domicile, the court considered continuity of residence; relative number of rooms, servants, expenditures, and acreage; location of social events; church affiliation; and address used on merchants' accounts. 
  • The court concluded that the decedent's frequent expressions of retaining the former domicile, colored by tax considerations and post-mortem planning, could not prevail over his actual conduct. 
  • The court held that after the Commonwealth established that the decedent had actual in-state residence at time of death, the executors failed to prove actual out-of-state residence, or that in-state residence was temporary. 
  • The court held that the decedent's legal domicile at death was in-state, and that an inheritance transfer tax, based upon agreed value of his estate at time of death, was due to the Commonwealth.
CONCLUSION: The judgment of the trial court was reversed. In determining domicile, decedent's expressed intention did not supersede the effect of his conduct. Appraisement of the estate was reinstated, with an inheritance transfer tax due to the Commonwealth.

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