Harms v. Sprague

Supreme Court of Illinois473 N.E.2d 930 (1984)


William Harms (plaintiff) and his brother, John Harms, owned property as joint tenants. Sprague (defendant) purchased property nearby from the Simmonses. John allowed Sprague to use his joint tenancy interest as collateral for the balance due on the mortgage for that purchase. John then died, leaving his entire estate to Sprague. William sued to quiet title in the property formerly owned jointly by him and his brother. Sprague filed a counterclaim, alleging that he actually owned the property as a tenancy in common with William, subject to a mortgage lien on his interest. The trial court held that the joint tenancy was terminated when John conveyed the mortgage interest to the Simmonses; that the mortgage survived John’s death; and that, therefore, Sprague prevailed on his counterclaim. The appellate court reversed, holding that the mortgage did not shatter the joint tenancy, and that William therefore owned the property free and clear. Sprague and the Simmonses appealed.

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