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RBS Citizens, N.A. v. Ouhrabka - 2011 VT 86, 190 Vt. 251, 30 A.3d 1266

Rule:

The estate of tenancy by the entirety never flowed from the married woman's common law disabilities, rather, it resulted from the common-law principle of marital unity. The tenancy is said to be sui generis. Upon the death of one of the tenants the survivor does not take as a new acquisition, but under the original limitation, his estate being simply freed from participation by the other.

Facts:

Plaintiff creditor filed a motion for a writ of attachment against the property of defendant guarantor. The court denied the motion, holding that a creditor could not attach property owned jointly by a debtor and a nondebtor when they held that property as tenants by the entirety. Plaintiff appealed.

Issue:

Wa the plaintiff creditor entitled to the remedy of attachment when the property of the defendant guarantor is held in tenancy with a nondebtor?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Court affirmed the trial court’s decision and rejected plaintiff's argument that the estate of tenancy by the entirety should be abolished. The estate never flowed from the married woman's common law disabilities; rather, it resulted from the common-law principle of marital unity. Furthermore, plaintiff was a sophisticated lender which was aware that defendant's property was held in a tenancy by the entirety. It could have required defendant's wife to cosign the loan and guaranty, but failed to do so.

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