Carpenter v. Pennsylvania - 58 U.S. 456 (1854)
U.S. Supreme Court
Carpenter v. Pennsylvania, 58 U.S. 17 How. 456 456 (1854)
Carpenter v. Pennsylvania
58 U.S. (17 How.) 456
The State of Pennsylvania, in 1826, passed a law by which all inheritances being within that commonwealth which, by the intestacy or the will of any decedent, should devolve upon any other than the father, mother, wife, children, or lineal descendants of such person should be subject to a tax.
In 1850, an explanatory act was passed declaring that the words "being within this commonwealth" should be so construed as to relate to all persons who have been at the time of their decease or now may be, domiciled within this commonwealth, as well as to estates.
In 1849, a citizen of Pennsylvania died, whose will was proven by a resident executor in December, 1849. The executor represented that a portion of the estate, consisting of securities, stocks, loans, and evidences of debt and property, was not within the commonwealth.
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania decided that this portion was subject to the tax, and this Court has no authority to revise that decision.
The explanatory law is not within the prohibitions of the Constitution of the United States.
It is true that in some respects the rights of donees under a will become vested by the death of a testator, but until the period of distribution arrives, the law of the decedent's domicile attaches to the property.
The explanatory act is not an ex post facto law within the 10th section of the 1st article of the Constitution of the United States. This phrase was used in a restricted sense, relating to criminal cases only.
The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.