A surviving joint tenant succeeds to the share of the deceased joint tenant by virtue of the conveyance which created the joint tenancy, not as the successor of the deceased. A joint tenancy is not severed when one joint tenant executes a mortgage on his interest in the property, since the unity of title has been preserved.
Plaintiff William H. Harms owned property with his brother, John R. Harms, in joint tenancy. During his lifetime, John mortgaged his interest in the property to defendants, Carl T. and Mary E. Simmons. Upon John's death, William brought an action to quiet title against Carl T., Mary E. Simmons, and Charles D. Sprague, the executor of the estate of John and the devisee of all the real and personal property of John. The trial court judgment in favor of defendants. On appeal, the judgment was reversed in favor of William. Thus, defendants appealed.
Did the appellate court err in granting the action to quiet title in favor of William?
The Supreme Court of Illinois affirmed the appellate court's judgment on the grounds that the joint tenancy was not severed when plaintiff brother John mortgaged his interest. The Court held that a mortgage is only a lien and does not destroy the unity of title. Further, the Court held that the mortgage did not survive John’s death, because the lien, along with his interest, extinguished upon his death.