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Contracts or executory contracts relating to real property are governed by the law of the jurisdiction or place where the property is located. However, a distinction is made between contracts directly affecting title to real property, which are to be so construed according to the law of the state where the property is situated, and contracts which while relating to real property, do not directly affect the title to or an interest in the property itself but are purely personal. Agreements of the latter nature are governed by the usual rules of contracts, and will not be influenced by the law of the state where the property is situated.
Plaintiff is Sara Gideon Hill, widow of Harry Murdock Hill. Defendants are the residuary legatees and devisees under Mr. Hill's will and the beneficiary of insurance policies on his life: his mother, Anna Mary Hill, his sister, Ruth M. Huhn, and his brother, Thomas Wallace Hill. All defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff alleges that she and Mr. Hill signed a contract on December 30, 1965 in Salisbury, Maryland, where they were married on the following day. He died domiciled in Delaware on October 20, 1967. The agreement was recorded in the Office of the Recorder of Deeds for Sussex County, Delaware, on March 12, 1968. The agreement recites that the parties respectively own certain property: Mr. Hill owns real property in Seaford, Delaware, stocks, securities and insurance policies upon his life; his intended wife owns two properties in the Borough of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, one alone and another with her son as joint tenants with right of survivorship. Mr. Hill's probated will directs that his residuary estate, which includes real property at Hearn's Pond (near Seaford), Delaware, be divided into equal parts and distributed to the three defendants. He named his mother as the beneficiary of life insurance. Plaintiff alleges that she performed all of the obligations required of her under the agreement and that she remained Mr. Hill's wife until his death. She says that Mr. Hill performed several of his obligations but he failed, through oversight, to: (a) execute a deed transferring the Hearn's Pond property to himself and plaintiff as tenants by the entireties, and (b) make plaintiff a beneficiary of all his life insurance. Mrs. Hill says that she is the equitable owner of the Hearn's Pond property and she claims the proceeds of the insurance. She thus seeks an order requiring defendants to hold their respective interests in those properties in trust for her.
Are the requirements of 13 Del.C. § 301 applicable to the pre-nuptial agreement made in Maryland and relating to real property in Delaware and Pennsylvania?
The court denied defendants' motion to dismiss. The court determined that Del. Code Ann. tit. 13, § 301 did not apply to the pre-nuptial agreement because it did not directly affect the title to the real property located within the state. The court found that the law of the state where the agreement was made governed its validity. The court concluded that defendants had not shown any reason why the agreement was invalid under the laws of the other state.