Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Mercer County, June T., 1967, No. 4, in case of Marvin R. Loutzenhiser v. Archie LeRoy Doddo et ux.
Nathan Routman, with him Routman, Moore, Goldstone & Valentino, for appellant.
P. R. Bartholomew, with him Donald R. McKay, and Cusick, Madden, Joyce & McKay, for appellee.
Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Bell. Mr. Justice Cohen concurs in the result.
This is an appeal from the decree of the lower Court refusing to declare a deed to land in Hempfield Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania, null and void.
The appellant, Marvin R. Loutzenhiser, a single man 72 years old, was the owner of approximately 8 1/2 acres of land in Hempfield Township, upon which were erected four finished houses and a fifth house which was partially completed. Appellant had leased three of the finished houses to various tenants and relied partially upon the rent therefrom for his subsistence. In the spring of 1966, appellant contacted Robert F. Banks, an attorney, and told him that he wanted to transfer his real estate to Amy Doddo,*fn* his niece, and to John Loutzenhiser,*fn** his nephew. Amy was to be deeded three finished houses and John was to receive one finished house and the house under construction.
The record shows that the motivation and reason for these transfers was appellant's desire, primarily, to avoid Federal Estate taxes and State Inheritance taxes and, incidentally, to have Amy and her husband, Archie Doddo, come and live in a house on his property and be in a position to take care of him.
In September 1966, Amy and her husband gave up their home in Transfer, Mercer County, Pennsylvania, and moved into the main house on appellant's property on Donation Road, Hempfield Township. Appellant moved into a cottage on the same property, with the expectation of moving into the partially constructed house when it was completed. The main house was in run-down condition and Amy and her husband renovated it, and paid the expenses of renovation.
Appellant executed deeds to the properties, which were prepared by his attorney, Banks, and dated October 10th and 11th, 1966. At the suggestion of Banks, a conference was held with all the interested parties for the purpose of effecting delivery of the deeds. At this conference, it was discovered that the name of John's wife was incorrectly stated in one of the deeds, and therefore it was necessary to retype the deed. During the conference, Banks explained to appellant that the conveyances to his niece and nephew must be without "any strings attached," if he was to accomplish his purpose of avoiding estate and inheritance taxes.**fn**
Banks suggested that appellant pay rent to John, for the privilege of occupying a portion of the property being conveyed to John, in order to insure that the transferred property would not be included in appellant's estate for tax purposes. Appellant agreed to pay John $24 a month for rent. Banks also suggested, and the parties agreed, that the grantees (donees) ...