Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Florida

tenants by the entirety

My mother-in-law is on the deed of our home. The deed reads ''John Doe and Mary Doe, Husband and Wife and Jane Doe, A Single Woman, as tenants by the entirety''. Does this mean that when Jane Doe dies, her share of the house automatically goes to us or could the other siblings go after her share of the home and force a sale?

Asked on 8/08/07, 10:24 am

3 Answers from Attorneys

Ronald Jones Ronald A. Jones, PA
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Re: tenants by the entirety

Off the top of my head, it looks like somebody screwed up the deed. Tenants by the entirety is ONLY between people married to each other: John Doe and Mary Doe are identified as being married to each other so there's right of survivorship between them: the problem is that the Jane Doe is identified as being single, and obviously, is NOT married to the other parties; and she can't be a 'tenant by the entirety' if she's not married. Odds are, the default ownership is as tenant in common; when she dies her share will probably pass to all of her children; and yes, they could conceviably force a sale.

You need to show deed to and talk to a lawyer about this.

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8/08/07, 10:46 am
Frank J. Pyle Probate Attorney Throughout Florida
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Re: tenants by the entirety

This is a common situation I run into - makes for business for me, since probate is required for Jane's share of the property when she dies. Usually it is because the preparer of the deed didn't understand survivorship rights on real estate, or didn't realize the parties' intent. Upon John Doe's or Mary Doe's death, his or her interest would pass to the other if they continue to be married until death. Upon Jane Doe's death, her interest in the property would pass as part of her estate, not automatically to John and Mary Doe. The three of you need to sign (all at the same time)and record a new deed from the three of you providing for the right of survivorship if you want Jane's share to pass to you upon her death without probate (and without her other children being owners with you - or her new husband if she were to remarry, in which case she would absolutely need a premarital agreement).

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8/08/07, 10:59 am
Scott R. Jay Law Offices of Scott R. Jay
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Re: tenants by the entirety

NOTE: This communication is not intended as and should not be interpreted as legal advice. Rather, it is intended solely as a general discussion of legal principles. You should not rely on or take action based on this communication without first presenting ALL relevant details to a competent attorney in your jurisdiction and then receiving the attorney's individualized advice for you. By reading the "Response" to your question or comment, you agree that the opinion expressed is not intended to, nor does it, create any attorney-client relationship, nor does it constitute legal advice to any person reviewing such information, nor will it be considered an attorney-client privileged communication. If you do not agree, then stop right here, and do not read any further.

This appears to be a scrivenor's error in the preparation of the deed. John and Mary can certainly have a tenancy by the entireties as a married couple but not Jane who is the daughter. Unfortunately, based on the error, the estate of Jane would probably have to be probated and devised through probate.

In order to avoid that, they should meet with an attorney and execute a new deed correctly setting forth the ownership interests of each of the parties and whether or not a right of survivorship is intended to be formed in the event of the death of one of the owners.

Scott R. Jay, Esq.

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8/08/07, 1:46 pm

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