Once an individual arrives in Florida, his or her first financial decision may be the purchase of a new residence.
There are three methods to protect residence from the claims of creditors.
The most common method is the ownership of the property as tenants by the entireties with the individual’s spouse.
Under the laws of Florida relating to tenants by the entireties, both spouses own the whole property together, and the surviving spouse succeeds to the ownership of the property (by ‘operation of law’) upon the death of the first spouse to die.
Florida law provides that property held as tenants by the entireties is immune (not exempt) from the execution for debts of any one individual owner. This is because ownership of property in this way is considered to give each other full and individual ownership and control of the property.
This is true even if one of the spouses dies while subject to an existing creditor claim; i.e. the spouse will take the entireties property free from the claim of the other spouse’s creditors.
It is important to note that entireties property may not be subject to exemption if the claim is against both husband and wife jointly.
The only way such a situation may typically arise is if both parties guarantee a debt or obligation or if the two spouses are somehow related in the business or have committed a joint act giving rise to joint liability to the same plaintiff or creditor.