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White vs.

Michael White was born in West Virginia and has lived there his entire life. When he grew up, he married
Lucinda Tennant (now Lucinda White). On April 1885, he sold his domicile and left West Virginia. He and
his family moved to Pennsylvania. He made arrangements to rent his father’s farmhouse and decided to
stay there indefinitely with his family. However, the moment they unloaded their things in their new
house, Lucinda got sick with typhoid fever.

The land of Michael’s father where the farmhouse was located is very huge. One part of it is located in
Pennsylvania, the other in West Virginia. The WV part of that lot has a mansion where Michael’s relatives
stayed. When Lucinda got sick, Michael decided that Lucinda should stay in said mansion with his relatives
so she could be looked after. Michael also decided to stay with her there while she is recovering from the
illness. Not long after, Michael also got sick with typhoid fever while he was in that mansion and died -
intestate. The wife recovered from her illness.

The administrator of Michael’s estate was Emrod Tennant – Lucinda’s father. He distributed Michael’s
properties in accordance with the law of WV. Michael’s brother contested the distribution of the estate.

The law of West Virginia provides that the surviving spouse of an intestate decedent gets the whole estate;
while the law of Pennsylvania provides that the surviving spouse only gets half, and the other relatives –
in this case the plaintiffs – will get the other half.

Which law should apply? West Virginia or Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania law should apply.

The succession and distribution of a decedent’s personal estate is controlled by the law of the state where
the decedent was domiciled at the time of death. A domicile is a residence, actual or developing, with
the lack of any intent to make a domicile elsewhere. These two elements must exist together. One
domicile cannot be lost until another is acquired. The facts reveal that Michael left his West Virginia
residence with no plans to return and with the intent and purpose of making his permanent home in
Pennsylvania. He sold his West Virginia Property and gave possession to the purchaser – hence, it is
impossible for him to return there.

The moment he and his wife arrived at their new home, their domicile became Pennsylvania. His leaving
there, because he wanted to be with his wife who was recovering from illness in West Virginia, with the
intention of returning there did not change that fact. He did not revive his domicile in West Virginia.

Therefore, the laws of Pennsylvania apply. Emrod Tennant was incorrect in distributing the estate in
accordance with the laws of West Virginia. Country road, take me home – to the place I belong – West
Virginia, mountain mama…