A debtor has long-established bank accounts in Florida titled jointly with his spouse. The accounts are protected from creditors as tenants by entireties property. The debtor and his family then move out of Florida to Texas. Texas is a community property state which does not recognized the concept, or exemption, of tenancy by the entireties. The debtor asks me whether his Florida bank accounts are protected after he moves to Texas.
I’m not familiar with a case on this issue, but in my opinion this debtor loses the protection of his joint bank accounts the day he unpacks his moving van in Texas. The debtor/creditor laws concerning real estate are based on the law where the property is situated so that this debtor’s jointly owned real property in Florida, if any, would remain exempt T by E property after he moves. The laws concerning personal property, including financial accounts, is based on the laws where the debtor resides. Once the debtor resides in Texas I think that he cannot claim an entireties exemption for his financial accounts wherever located.
A reverse move would have the opposite result, in theory. A Texan with marital bank accounts in Texas or Florida could achieve tenancy by entireties protection by taking up residence in Florida.
posted by Jonathan Alper, asset protection and bankruptcy attorney, Orlando, Florida
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