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Owning Property as Tenants by the Entireties

Protecting your personal assets from the claims of creditors is always an important goal, and the state of Florida has some of the country’s most generous asset protection laws. Often, a business misstep or an unexpected lawsuit can result in an unwanted financial crisis. You can protect the assets you have accumulated over the years by engaging in simple asset protection strategies under state law. Our Florida asset protection attorneys are here to help ensure that your assets are adequately protected from the reach of creditors and keep them secure for your family’s future.

Defining Tenants by the Entireties

Tenants by the entireties is a form of asset ownership exclusive to married couples. Essentially, it is joint tenancy or ownership with rights of survivorship combined with marriage. Both spouses own a 100% undivided interest in the property.

Bank Accounts

Under Florida Statutes Section 655.79, any joint bank account a married couple owns is presumed to be held as tenants by the entireties, absent clear and convincing evidence otherwise. A creditor can rebut this presumption by showing that the spouses intended to own the account in some other manner of joint ownership. Therefore, when opening a bank account, spouses should specifically designate on the bank account application and the signature card that they intend to hold the account as tenants by the entireties. They also should take care that they do not explicitly choose another form of joint ownership for the account or expressly disclaim holding the account as tenants by the entireties.

Real Estate and Personal Property

Any real estate or personal property that a married couple jointly owns is presumptively held as tenants by the entireties. If a creditor questions whether the property is truly held in a tenancy by the entirety, spouses must have evidence that they intended to take property as tenants by the entireties. The characteristics that indicate a tenancy by the entirety under Florida law include:

  • Joint ownership and control by the spouses
  • Both spouses have an identical interest in the property
  • Each spouse’s interest originated in the same instrument
  • Each spouse’s interest commenced simultaneously
  • Joint owners were married at the time they acquired the property
  • Surviving spouse will own the property after the other spouse dies

Tenants by the Entireties as an Asset Protection Tool

A tenancy by the entirety is a simple and highly effective asset protection tool for married couples. Under Florida law, a creditor of one spouse cannot go after the asset that is held in a tenancy by the entirety. Therefore, any property held in this manner is completely protected from creditors who hold a judgment against only one of the spouses.

If both spouses are jointly indebted to a creditor, the creditor can involuntarily seize the asset to satisfy the debt.

Let Us Help You Protect Your Assets

The asset protection attorneys at Kramer Green have years of experience in protecting clients’ assets who have worked so hard to earn them. We want you to be able to preserve those assets for yourself and your family, regardless of your circumstances. Together, we can work to devise the asset protection strategies that are best for you. Call us today at (954) 966-2112 or contact us online to schedule an appointment to address your legal issues with us.

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