What is Tenancy by the Entirety?
In Florida, Tenancy by the Entirety (TBE) is a form of ownership where a married couple claims to own an undivided one hundred percent (100%) interest in real or personal property. When a married couple residing in the state of Florida own property in TBE, each spouse is said to own the entirety of the property as a single legal entity—not individually or in divisible parts.
How Can I Claim Tenancy by the Entirety in Florida?
An asset falls under the jurisdiction of TBE in Florida if all of the following “unities” are present:
- Unity of Interest
- Both spouses hold an identical joint interest.
- Unity of Marriage
- Parties are married at the time of ownership.
- Unity of Possession
- Both spouses hold joint ownership and control.
- Unity of Time
- Both spouses take joint ownership at the same time.
- Unity of Title
- Both spouses are listed and possess joint title.
- If one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse continues to hold complete ownership.
Whenever one of these unities is no longer present, TBE ownership ceases to exist. The most common examples of TBE termination include divorce, death, and mutual agreement.
Why Is Tenancy by the Entirety the Most Popular Form of Ownership for Married Couples in Florida?
Assets properly claimed and owned in TBE in Florida carry a free layer of Asset Protection against creditors of a spouse that defaults on an individual credit obligation. Suppose a married couple residing in Florida own a TBE asset. If a creditor sues one spouse exclusively, the creditor cannot attach the TBE asset to satisfy the judgement obligation without consent from the other spouse not involved in the legal action. Moreover, if one spouse predeceases the other spouse, the surviving spouse continues to own TBE property individually without having to pass through probate.
Are There Exceptions to the Tenancy by the Entirety Creditor Protection?
Yes. The TBE creditor protection is exempt if:
- After the death of a spouse, the surviving spouse faces a credit obligation.
- Either spouse owes money to a nation’s creditor (any U.S. government agency).
- The married couple disclaims TBE ownership when obtaining an asset.
- The married couple share a credit obligation.
How Can I Learn More About Tenancy by the Entirety Ownership?If you are considering owning property under Tenancy by the Entirety, we invite you to schedule a Complimentary Consultation with one of our Asset Protection and Estate Planning Attorneys regarding Florida’s TBE stipulations, requirements, and other forms of property ownership.