Tenancy by the Entireties Must Be Set Up From the Beginning

A recent case by Miami bankruptcy Judge Cristol should not come as a surprise to a Fort Lauderdale bankruptcy attorney but might be a surprise to those considering bankruptcy.  Property owned as husband and wife in Florida can be exempt from the creditors of one spouse.  For example, a car owned by husband and wife would appear to be protected from individual creditors.  But what if the wife purchased the car in her name and later changed the title to husband and wife?  This would violate one of the so-called unities of title required to establish tenancy by the entireties.    In re Shahegh, 2013 Bankr Lexis 359(Bankr. S. D. FL January 28, 2013)(Case no 12-25260) upheld the chapter 7 trustee’s objection to the debtor’s claim of exemption in a Mercedes.

(Beware:  note as to motor vehicles based on the Florida motor vehicle title statute, a car owned by husband or wife is not held as tenancy by the entireties.  The title certificate must say “and” instead of “or”.)


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