Mortgages – Contribution – Right of Surviving Tenant by the Entirety to Contribution for Joint Mortgage Debt

Decedent and his wife held title to certain land as tenants by the entirety. Shortly before decedent’s death they jointly incurred an indebtedness of $8000 secured by a mortgage on such land. The proceeds of the loan were used to improve the mortgaged property. After decedent’s death his widow, having succeeded to full ownership of the mortgaged land, claimed that she was entitled to contribution from decedent’s estate for one-half of the joint mortgage debt upon the property. On the executors’ petition for a final distribution decree the lower court denied the widow’s right to contribution from the estate. On appeal, held, reversed, one judge dissenting. Decedent’s estate must contribute one-half of the mortgage debt. The right of contribution is an attribute of joint liability flowing directly from the debt itself, and it does not depend upon a common interest in the land mortgaged to secure such debt. In re Keil’s Estate, (Del. 1958) 145 A (2d) 563.