Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Tenants by Entirety (TBE)


Tenants by Entirety (TBE) is a method of real estate ownership that is exclusively designed for married couples. It offers each spouse equal interest in the property and includes the right of survivorship, so if one spouse dies, the property ownership transfers automatically to the surviving spouse. Importantly, it also offers protection against creditors as they can’t attach a lien to the property unless both spouses agree to the debt.


The phonetics for the keyword “Tenants by Entirety (TBE)” is “ˈtɛnənts baɪ ɪnˈtaɪərti (ti: bi: i:)”

Key Takeaways

1. Joint Ownership: Tenants by Entirety (TBE) refers to a ownership structure in real estate where a married couple jointly owns a property. This form of ownership signifies that each spouse has an equal and undivided interest in the property. This means that they own the property as a single legal entity.

2. Survivorship Right: Another key characteristic of a TBE arrangement is the right of survivorship. This principle states that upon the death of one spouse, the surviving spouse becomes the sole owner of the property. The deceased spouse’s interest in the property does not pass to his or her heirs, but instead automatically reverts to the surviving spouse.

3. Creditors Protection: Financially, TBE offers some protection against creditors. In most cases, creditors cannot attach the property to satisfy the debt of one spouse because each spouse is considered to own the entire estate. However, this protection doesn’t apply if the debt is jointly owed by both spouses.


The term “Tenants by Entirety” (TBE) holds significant importance in the field of business/finance as it refers to a legal structure that ensures protection for property owners, specifically married couples. In essence, it prevents one spouse from selling, giving away, or otherwise transferring the ownership of property without the consent of the other spouse. This concept becomes especially vital during bankruptcy or creditor claims – a creditor of one spouse cannot claim the property that’s held as tenancy by entirety, which aids in safeguarding the couple’s shared property. Hence, TBE is a crucial tool for property ownership, designed to provide legal protection and financial security for married couples.


The purpose of Tenants By Entirety (TBE), a type of property ownership, serves to protect spouses and their property. This system is primarily used in scenarios where marital or family properties are involved and is recognized in certain states, particularly those that use common law for marital property. The TBE designation provides protection to both spouses in terms of ownership rights as well as providing legal protection against debts or liabilities incurred by one spouse. The use and value of TBE come to the forefront in instances of adversity. For instance, if one spouse incurs a significant debt, a property owned as TBE cannot be seized by creditors, protecting the other spouse’s right to the property. This safeguard is due to the principle that each spouse is considered to own the entire property, rather than split ownership. Additionally, in case of the demise of one spouse, the property automatically shifts in ownership to the surviving spouse without the necessity for probate. Therefore, TBE serves to secure spousal rights, providing an additional layer of financial security and stability.


1. Property Ownership in Marriage: In a real-life scenario, a married couple in the state of Florida – which allows Tenancy by Entirety – decides to invest in real estate by buying a house. They decide to have the property’s title under both their names. Here, the principle of Tenants by Entirety (TBE) applies. If one partner incurs a personal debt and fails to pay, the creditors cannot claim the shared property as it is protected under TBE.2. Protection of Business Assets: Assume a couple owns a chain of family-run restaurants under Tenants by Entirety in Maryland, another state that recognizes TBE. If one of them gets sued for reasons unrelated to the business, say personal injury caused to someone in a car accident, the business assets are protected from seizure to settle their personal liability under TBE. 3. Estate Planning: A couple in Pennsylvania, which allows TBE, owns their home as Tenants by Entirety. Unfortunately, the husband passes away suddenly. As per the TBE rules, the ownership of the property is immediately and fully transferred to the surviving wife without having to pass through probate. This ensures a smooth transition of the property, hence reducing any further stress that probate might cause.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Tenants by Entirety (TBE)?

Tenants by Entirety (TBE) is a type of property ownership, specific to married couples or couples in official domestic partnerships. It means that the property is owned by the couple as a single legal entity, not as individuals.

In which states is Tenants by Entirety recognized?

TBE is recognized in several U.S. states such as Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming.

How does TBE differ from a joint tenancy?

While both involve shared ownership, TBE has different legal implications. For instance, an individual cannot sell or give away their interest in the property without the consent of the other tenant. In contrast, in a joint tenancy, each owner has the right to sell or transfer their interest without the consent of the other owners.

How does Tenants by Entirety protect assets from creditors?

Under TBE, creditors of an individual spouse cannot attach and sell the interest of that spouse in the property to satisfy individual debt, as the property is considered to be owned as a whole entity rather than by two individuals.

Can the Tenancy by Entirety be broken or discontinued?

Yes, it can be broken by mutual consent, divorce, or the death of one spouse.

What happens in the event of a death of a spouse?

In the event of a death of a spouse, the surviving spouse will become the full owner of the entire property as per the ‘right of survivorship’ clause prevailing in Tenants by Entirety.

How is TBE different from Community Property?

Community Property is a form of ownership by husband and wife during their marriage which they intend to own together. In comparison, TBE not only has the unity of possession but also has unities of time, title, interest, and marriage where each owner simultaneously has an undivided ownership interest in the property.

Does TBE apply to real estate only?

No, TBE can apply to real estate and other forms of property, such as bank accounts and vehicles, based on the state laws.

Related Finance Terms

  • Joint Tenancy
  • Co-ownership
  • Marital Property Rights
  • Survivorship Rights
  • Real Estate Law

Sources for More Information

About Our Editorial Process

At Due, we are dedicated to providing simple money and retirement advice that can make a big impact in your life. Our team closely follows market shifts and deeply understands how to build REAL wealth. All of our articles undergo thorough editing and review by financial experts, ensuring you get reliable and credible money advice.

We partner with leading publications, such as Nasdaq, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, and more, to provide insights on retirement, current markets, and more.

We also host a financial glossary of over 7000 money/investing terms to help you learn more about how to take control of your finances.

View our editorial process

About Our Journalists

Our journalists are not just trusted, certified financial advisers. They are experienced and leading influencers in the financial realm, trusted by millions to provide advice about money. We handpick the best of the best, so you get advice from real experts. Our goal is to educate and inform, NOT to be a ‘stock-picker’ or ‘market-caller.’ 

Why listen to what we have to say?

While Due does not know how to predict the market in the short-term, our team of experts DOES know how you can make smart financial decisions to plan for retirement in the long-term.

View our expert review board

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More