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SAYRE ESTATE (06/28/71)

decided: June 28, 1971.

SAYRE ESTATE


Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas, Orphans' Court Division, of Delaware County, No. 46 of 1969, in the matter of the estate of Greta Rhoads Sayre, deceased.

COUNSEL

William H. Nast, Jr., with him Clarence D. Bell, and Bell, Pugh, Sinclair & Prodoehl, for appellant.

Robert B. Surrick, Special Assistant Attorney General, with him Edward T. Baker, Deputy Attorney General, and J. Shane Creamer, Attorney General, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy and Barbieri, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Bell.

Author: Bell

[ 443 Pa. Page 549]

This case deals with the applicability of the Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax to several "in trust" savings accounts opened by Greta Rhoads Sayre in her lifetime, for her two sons.

Greta Rhoads Sayre died May 21, 1968, survived by two adult sons, Allyn T. Sayre, Jr. and Holland R. Sayre. More than two years prior to her death, decedent had opened five accounts at several savings and loan associations. Three of the accounts were designated "Greta Rhoads Sayre in Trust for Holland R. Sayre," and two were designated "Greta Rhoads Sayre in Trust for Allyn T. Sayre, Jr." No power of revocation or alteration was specifically reserved by the decedent, nor did she ever revoke or alter them. These five accounts, which totaled approximately $50,000, were

[ 443 Pa. Page 550]

    not included in the Inheritance Tax return filed by her executor, Holland R. Sayre. The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue made a re-appraisement of the Estate and included the bank accounts. A protest was filed by the executor with the Department of Revenue, and after the protest was denied, the executor took an appeal to the Orphans' Court Division of Delaware County.

The Orphans' Court Division hearing Judge held that the decedent created irrevocable trusts when she opened the accounts, and thus the accounts were not subject to Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax at her death. However, the Commonwealth's exceptions to this ruling were sustained by the Court en banc, and this appeal by the executor followed.

Although the law of trusts determines the question of the ownership of these accounts, we must not lose sight of the fact that this is a tax case and that we must look to the pertinent provisions of Article II of the Inheritance and Estate Tax Act of 1961, P. L. 373, 72 P.S. ยง 2485-101 et seq., and our prior pertinent decisions interpreting it. These sections provide:

"Article II

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