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Intention alone cannot defeat the acquisition of a new domicile where other facts show a change of domicile has actually occurred.
At the start of his business career, Dr. John T. Dorrance established his residence at a boarding house in Camden, New Jersey, living there until 1905, when he moved to the Robeson Apartments in the same city. In 1906 he married Miss Ethel Mallinckrodt of Baltimore, Maryland, who survived him as his widow. Dorrance and his wife made their home at the Robeson Apartments until 1908, at which time they moved to Philadelphia and remained in that city until 1911. In 1909 Dorrance purchased a country place known as Pomona Farms in Cinnaminson Township, Burlington County, New Jersey. He later conveyed the title to this property to the Campbell Preserve Company and thereafter leased the premises from that company. Upon completion of alterations to the leased property, Dorrance and his family entered into possession on May 7, 1911, and the Commonwealth conceded that from this date until November 14, 1925, decedent’s domicile was in New Jersey. In 1925, Dorrance purchased a large and attractive estate known as "Woodcrest" located in Radnor, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, in the suburbs of Philadelphia. The Dorrance family occupied Woodcrest from November 14, 1925, at which time their entire personal effects were removed from Cinnaminson to Radnor. The Commonwealth contended that from this date until his death, Dorrance was domiciled in Pennsylvania. The Orphans' Court of Delaware County has set aside the appraisement of the Commonwealth for transfer inheritance tax purposes. According to the court, where a man has more than one residence, he may choose for his domicile whichever one of them he pleased. The Commonwealth sought review of the decree.
Under the circumstances, was the decedent domiciled in Pennsylvania, notwithstanding the decedent’s expressed intention on his domicile of choice?
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 Dorrance’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 Dorrance 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 Dorrance’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.