A Florida resident who owns personal property as a general rule may protect that property from creditors with exemptions provided by Florida law. For instance, a securities account owned by a Florida resident debtor jointly with his spouse is protected from the debtor’s creditors because the account is presumed to owned tenants by the entireties in Florida. An interesting issue is presented when the debtor who is presently a Florida resident had moved from another state which does not recognize tenants by entireties exemptions, and the debtor had previously opened a joint financial account at his previous residence at a national financial institution with offices in Florida and his home state. In that case, a creditor who had obtained a judgment against the debtor in a court proceeding in the home state may try to garnish the joint financial account in the home state. The debtor would argue that as soon as he became a Florida resident all his joint accounts should be exempt as tenants by entireties accounts.
The creditor would argue that the debtor and spouse had no intent on opening an entireties account in his old state because that form of ownership was, and is, unavailable. Additionally, a move to Florida does not stay collection actions by courts in other states against accounts located in their states. If the creditor prevailed in this argument, does that mean than a Florida resident with joint account in a national financial institution may have the account garnished by serving a writ of garnishment at an office of same institution in any state other than Florida?
I am unaware of a legal decision on this issue without having done any research. Yet, I think the creditor in this hypothetical has the stronger arguments. When moving to Florida to protect assets from legal problems it is best to open new accounts at Florida branches of national banks and brokerages and to title the new Florida accounts as entireties accounts or in the name of a protected legal entity.