Tenancy by entireties ownership requires certain characteristics. One requirement is that husband and wife must acquire their interest in the entireties asset simultaneously. For instance, suppose a single man has a bank account. He gets married, and after marriage he adds his wife’s name to the account as a co-owner (not just an authorized signer). The account is not an entireties account because the husband and wife acquired their interests in the account at a different time and the man opened the account before being married.

This week I encountered an exception to the rule about simultaneous ownership of entireties property. In this instance, my client purchased primary residence when he was single. After marriage deeded the property from his name to him and his wife jointly. The property exceeded ½ acre within a city so did not qualify for homestead protection. The issue was whether the residence could be considered a tenancy by entireties asset when the husband and wife did not acquire their interest at the same time in the same deed.

Florida statutes provide an exception to simultaneous title in the case of married persons owning real property as tenants by entireties. Florida Statute 689.11 provides that if one spouse owns a property in his own name and conveys the property by deed to both spouses the conveyance creates an estate by the entirety. Prior to the enactment of this statute an individual owner of homestead or other real property would have to convey the property to an unrelated third party and then have the intervening owner make a separate deed to the spouses jointly in order to establish entireties ownership of the property. In my client’s case his deed to his wife created ownership by the entireties, and his homestead would be thereafter protected from his individual creditors even if it was not fully protected under the Florida homestead umbrella.

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.

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