Appeals from decree of Orphans' Court of Allegheny County, No. 3136 of 1963, in re estate of Nicholas A. Brose, deceased.
George R. Craig, for widow.
Martin E. Geary, for executor.
Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Bell.
Both parties to a contest in the Orphans' Court have appealed from its final Decree which dismissed their respective exceptions to an adjudication. The Orphans' Court decreed (1) that ten entireties accounts should be divided equally between decedent's wife and decedent's executor, and (2) that decedent's wife was entitled solely and absolutely to an alleged tentative trust savings account.
From the facts, most of which were stipulated and others appear in the record, we make the following summary.
Nicholas Brose,*fn1 a physician, died testate July 10, 1963, in Allegheny County. On June 27, 1944, he had married a nurse an anaesthetist named Irma E. Brose.*fn2 During their married life together and until May 7, 1963, both continued to practice their respective professions. Money derived from their joint earnings was deposited in ten savings accounts and in one checking account in eight different banks and in one savings and loan association.
The parties stipulated that 10 of the aforesaid 11 accounts were "entireties" accounts and totaled $131,621.10.*fn3 More accurately, each account was evidenced by an executed contract of deposit. Some of the contracts are well drawn and are entitled "Nicholas or Irma," or "Nicholas and Irma," thus clearly creating a tenancy by the entireties. On the other hand, some of the contracts are inartistically drawn and do not accurately reflect the husband-wife relationship. Some of these list the names of "Nicholas" and "Irma" but do not connect them either with a conjunction or a disjunction; others denominate the relationship as a "joint tenancy"; and yet another merely says, "Payable to either or to the survivor."
Moreover, most of the contracts recite, "All deposits made therein shall be owned by us as tenants by the entireties with the right of survivorship. . . ." Several others were opened as "A joint account of husband and wife," and were made "payable to either of us or the survivor."
Despite these actual and technical differences, each of the bank accounts and each of the ten contracts above mentioned clearly created (as we shall see) a tenancy by the entireties.
What followed the opening of the aforesaid accounts was very unusual. On May 7, 1963, Irma left the common domicile (concealing her whereabouts from Nicholas) and withdrew $33,000 from their $38,387.05 checking account at the Mellon National Bank and Trust Company. This was withdrawn without Nicholas's knowledge ...