(Nyack, New York) I wanted to follow up on my prior blog post about “tenants by the entirety.” As I pointed out in that post,
It is interesting to consider what other “ramifications” owning property as tenants by the entirety might have. Given the “undivided” nature of the ownership relationship, a question about whether a creditor might be able to somehow “levy” against one spouses “share” of the real property might arise. Generally, most commentators suggest that the undivided nature of the interest makes one spouse’s interest in the property indivisible, meaning that the creditor cannot force the partition of the tenancy by the entirety without the debt being against both tenants, or spouses.
In New York, when a married couple purchases real estate the interest that the married couple has in the property is called a tenancy by the entirety. In that form of ownership, each party is said to have an undivided interest in the whole property. It is as if the married couple is “one person” in the eyes of the law. This type of ownership has certain benefits for the married couple. One of those benefits is that when one spouse dies, the other spouse automatically becomes the owner of the entire interest in the real property. So, in the above example, when one member of the married couple dies, the property would automatically pass to the surviving spouse.