Tenancy By the Entirety: Transfer Property to Your Partner

First Thing to note – Tenancy by the Entirety is not recognized in Washington State or Idaho.

Instead, Washington & Idaho recognize Joint Tenancy which is close to the concept of Tenancy by the Entirety.

In this article, we will discuss how to transfer property to your partner if you live in a state that recognizes Tenancy by the Entirety.

Tenancy by the Entirety Is…

You and your spouse (or same-sex partner in some states) must be married at the time you acquire property and remain married for your property to be titled Tenancy by the Entirety. Tenancy by the Entirety sees both spouses or partners as one legal entity meaning that the property cannot be sold or transferred without both people consenting.  It also makes the property exempt from judgments made against one spouse or partner for his sole debts or liabilities.  When one spouse or partner dies, the property automatically goes to the other spouse or partner even if there was another person named as an heir.

Advantages of Tenancy by the Entirety

There are three main advantages of having your property titled as tenancy by the entirety.  The first one is that you are protected from each other.  Neither one of you can mortgage or sell the property with the consent of the other party.  The second one is that there is protection from creditors.  If one of you have a debt solely against you, your property cannot be taken to pay for that debt because each of you owns 100% of the property.  And third, there is a right of survivorship.  This means that when one of you die, the property automatically goes to the other partner or spouse.

Disadvantages of Tenancy by the Entirety

Even though there are some great advantages, there are a few disadvantages that you should be aware of as well.  The first being that the surviving spouse or partner is the sole beneficiary even if that is not who the other spouse wanted the property to go to.  The second is that there could be potentially some tax issues.  The only way to check this is to see a qualified accountant to find out if there are any problems and how to fix them.  And finally, a will is still needed for proper disposal of your personal property.  The tenancy by entirety only covers your house/land; you certainly have more property than simply real-estate.

How to Transfer Property to Your Partner

There are at least two reasons to transfer property to your partner: after you die or if you decide to divorce.

Death:  If you or spouse dies, then your property will automatically transfer to the living spouse.  This will happen no matter what the will says.  The property will transfer outside of probate.

Divorce: Should you and your spouse decide to get a divorce, each of you will automatically become tenants in common.  This is because, for you to have tenancy of the entirety, you must be married.  Since you are divorcing, you are no longer considered a single legal unit.

Need Help Sorting It All Out?

Don’t worry too much if this is confusing right now.  The good news is we are here to help!  We work with people just like you every day and help them to understand how to prepare their property and estate for all eventualities.

We’d be thrilled to help you out today!

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