Does Joint Bank Account Become Tenants by Entireties Property When Family Moves To Florida?

Suppose a husband and wife own personal property, a bank account for example, jointly with rights of survivorship in a state that does not recognize tenants by entireties ownership of personal property, and they intend to move to Florida. Florida recognizes tenants by entireties of personal property, and under Florida law all personal property owned by married couples with rights of survivorship is presumed to be entireties property. The question for this fact situation is whether the couple’s bank account in another state’s bank becomes protected entireties property when the couple moves to Florida as permanent residents.

Based on my initial research for a client this week I think the answer is “no.” A bankruptcy court held that a promissory note owned by a married couple in a non-entireties state did not morph to protected entireties property just because the family moved to a state (Florida) which recognizes entireties. The court said that the nature of the debtor’s interest in property should not change just because the debtor moves across state lines.

If you have a joint bank account outside of Florida and are considering moving to Florida in part for asset protection purposes I suggest you and your spouse open a new, tenants by entireties bank account after you arrive in Florida. In most cases you can defend any fraudulent conversion arguments if the account where you came from was owned jointly and most of your other property was also jointly held.

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