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REIGHARD ESTATE. (04/19/55)

April 19, 1955

REIGHARD ESTATE.


Appeal, No. 7, Jan. T., 1955, from decree of Orphans' Court of Blair County, 1951, No. 5, in Estate of David Ross Reighard, deceased. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

Robert C. Haberstroh, for appellant.

Robert B. Campbell, with him Nelson & Campbell, for appellee.

C. A. McAleer, with him Leo C. Mullen and Herbert B. Cohen, Attorney General, for Commonwealth.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 381 Pa. Page 305]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

The question in this case is whether David Ross Reighard, who died on October 26, 1950, was at the time domiciled in Pennsylvania or Florida. The Orphans' Court of Blair County held he was domiciled in Pennsylvania. Dora Smith,*fn* asserting herself to be Reighard's widow, has appealed the decision.

A review of the record would indicate that the lower Court could not, on the facts and the law, have possibly come to any conclusion other than the one it decreed. David Reighard was born in Claysburg, Blair County, Pennsylvania, on June 10, 1887. He attended the public schools there, went into the military service during World War I from that community, and engaged in business in Claysburg from 1925 until 1928.

[ 381 Pa. Page 306]

He maintained a checking account with the First National Bank of Claysburg from 1925 until his death. All his financial transactions were carried on in Blair County, Pennsylvania institutions; he paid his Federal income tax to the Collector of Internal Revenue at Philadelphia, as was required of Blair County residents. He belonged to numerous organizations in Blair County, among them the Blair County Motor Club (AAA), Claysburg American Legion Post, Claysburg Rod and Gun Club, Claysburg Volunteer Fire Company, the Forty & Eight, and the Blair County Game, Fish and Forestry Association. In correspondence and in private records he invariably referred to Claysburg as his home. Upon his death he left $100,000 worth of securities, all of which were on deposit and in custody in Blair County. He owned in Claysburg a residence and a small garage with an overhead apartment. He also owned two vacant lots in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

As against this evidence of Pennsylvania domiciliation, it was shown in behalf of the appellant that twelve years prior to his death, Reighard had rented a small cottage in Oklawaha, Florida at $6. per month, and that in 1950 he had purchased it. It was shown also that he spent his winters in Florida, remaining there from 4 to 6 months every year, that he used Florida license plates for his automobile, claimed the Florida homestead exemption in 1950, registered in 1938 as a voter in Marion County, Florida and paid a Florida resident personal property tax. It was also demonstrated that the decedent had, for the purpose of voting in Florida, declared himself to be a resident of that State.

What is the test of permanent residence or domicile? It is not, as is sometimes supposed, simply the intent of the person ...


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