What is tenancy by the entirety?
“Tenancy by the entirety” is only recognized in some states, but where it is recognized, it is one of the ways that people may own property together. It is similar to a joint tenancy, except that the joint owners must also be married (in addition to meeting the requirements to qualify for a joint tenancy). As with a joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety may be subject to survivorship rights (in some states this is automatic, in other states, the deed or document creating the tenancy by the entirety must explicitly state that there are survivorship rights). When there are survivorship rights, this means that when one of the joint owners dies, his or her shares are automatically passed to his or her spouse. Thus, property which is owned by tenancy by the entirety and subject to survivorship rights is not part of the probate estate, because when one of the owners dies, it does not matter what is in his or her will, or what the state intestacy statutes say. In fact, if a joint owner’s will says that his interest in the property should pass to his son, the son will be out of luck as the deceased father’s property rights would immediately transfer to the wife upon the father’s death.