When people think of the “American Dream,” they think about working hard, paying down their mortgage, and giving their families a good, comfortable life. However, with today’s litigious society, paying down your mortgage could create unnecessary financial exposure. Thankfully, if you’re married, Florida offers a distinct form of property ownership called “Tenancy by the Entirety” which would protect the home in certain situations.

T by E property guidingTenancy by the Entirety or “T by E” is a distinct form of joint real estate ownership that is available only to a married couple. Unlike many states, Florida also extends this type of joint ownership to personal property as well (e.g., cars, boats, bank accounts, etc.).

If real estate is held in tenancy by the entirety, both spouses would have to consent to the sale of the property. Without both spouses, the transfer of property held as T by E by one spouse has no legal effect.  Likewise, if a mortgage is necessary to secure a loan, both spouses are required to consent to that as well.

More importantly (at least in this blog), property that is held as T by E is unreachable by creditors of an individual spouse who obtain a judgment against him or her. Basically, if your spouse is sued, the property cannot be attached or partitioned with a lawsuit. So, if your husband has some bad business dealings, or gets in a car accident, those creditors can’t reach the home because the home is title to “Husband and Wife, as Tenants by the Entirety. In effect, the property is now owned by the “marriage.”

However, it’s essential to note that if the debt is jointly owed (you and your spouse), the T by E form of ownership will not protect you.

This type of protection is in addition to your Homestead Protection we’ve discussed in previous blogs. Recall that you can only have one Homestead; whereas, you can own most of your property as Tenants by the Entirety with your spouse.

This is a generalized discussion and is not intended for any particular set of facts and should not be relied upon as such. If you are considering taking advantage of this type of joint ownership, you should speak with an attorney before transferring any property. By no means does this blog create an attorney-client relationship or attorney-client privilege between the Attorney and the readers. The law frequently changes as new cases are decided and published regularly. Anything relied upon in this or any blog, is done so at the readers own risk.

The Guirguis Law Firm, PLLC
1423 S.E. 16th Place, STE 204
Cape Coral, Florida 33990
239.573.9939 Telephone
239.603.9939 Facsimile

Posted on November 14, 2012, in Legal and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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