Tenants By Entireties Ownership of Household Furnishings

Personal property located within the homestead is not protected by Florida’s homestead laws which pertain only to real property.

Can your furniture, clothes, and other property located in your home still be protected? The answer is yes if it is owned as tenants by entireteis.

Built-in household appliances are usually considered part of the real property and are protected by homestead law. Furniture, electronics, artwork and other movable tangible personal property is not under the umbrella of homestead protection.

Personal property owned by a married couple may be tenants by entireties property, and if so, it is protected from the creditors of either spouse but not joint creditors. Household furnishings are not “titled,” and their ownership is not registered with the government.

One question I am often asked is what the individual debtor needs to show a court to prove that his household tangible property is owned by the debtor and spouse as tenants by the entirety.

The answer is that all tangible property owned by a husband and wife is presumed to be owned as tenants by the entireties as long as it was acquired during the marriage.

Other factual issues courts may consider when determining if household furnishings are owned by the entireties include whether the property was paid for with a check from a joint checking account, whether the couple’s estate planning documents leave their household furnishings to the surviving spouse (most do), and whether the household furnishings are insured under a single insurance policy naming both spouses as insured parties.

The debtor’s testimony that both spouses participated in the decision to purchase all household furnishings is also evidence of entireties ownership. There are exceptions to the general rule. Each spouse’s clothes and jewelry are probably individual property.

Jon Alper

About the Author

I’m a nationally recognized attorney specializing in asset protection planning. I graduated with honors from the University of Florida Law School and have practiced law for almost 50 years.

I have been recognized as a legal expert by media outlets such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. I have helped thousands of clients protect their assets from creditors.