Tenancy by the Entirety


Tenancy by the entirety refers to a form of shared property ownership that is reserved only for married couples. 

A tenancy by the entirety permits spouses to jointly own property as a single legal entity. This means that each spouse has an equal and undivided interest in the property.

Key Takeaways:

  • Tenancy by the entirety allows married couples to jointly own property as a single legal entity.
  • Each spouse has an equal and undivided interest in the property
  • In the event of one spouse’s death, the surviving spouse automatically receives full title to the property.

How it Works:

Tenancy by the entirety can only occur when the property owners are married to one another at the time they receive the title. This type of legal agreement doesn’t apply to other partnerships, such as friends, siblings, parent-child relationships, or business associates.

Spouses who mutually own property through tenancy by the entirety are referred to as tenants by entirety. Each spouse legally has equal rights to ownership of the property in question. This allows them to inhabit and use the property as they see fit.

The condition of mutual ownership of the entire property means the spouses must be in agreement when making decisions about the property. For example, one spouse doesn’t have the legal right to sell off or develop part of the property without the other’s consent.

There is no subdivision that separates the property into equal parts between the spouses. So, even if one spouse writes a will that grants an interest stake in the property to an heir, the power and rights of tenancy by the entirety creates a right of survivorship and invalidates and supersedes that aspect of the will.

In order to become tenants by the entirety of a certain property, the prospective tenants must be married at the time they come into ownership of the property. Specific requirements vary from state to state; some states extend tenancy by the entirety to domestic partners or common-law spouses.

Key Components:

  • Tenancy by the entirety is a form of shared property ownership exclusive to married couples.
  • Ownership rights are equal and undivided between spouses.
  • The surviving spouse automatically receives full title to the property upon the death of the other spouse.


  • Tenancy by the entirety allows one married partner to inherit the property without probate if their partner dies.
  • It protects the property from any claims against the deceased partner’s estate.
  • It prevents either partner from placing liens or selling the shared property without the other party’s consent.


Tenancy by the entirety is a type of property ownership that only applies to married couples. The couple is treated as a single legal entity and mutually co-owns the property. The consent of each is needed to sell or develop it. 

A tenancy by the entirety also creates a right of survivorship—when one spouse dies the surviving spouse gains full ownership of the property. About half of the U.S. states allow tenancy by the entirety and some permit it for domestic partners too.

It’s important to note that while tenancy by the entirety offers benefits such as avoiding probate and protecting the property, it may not be available in all states and has specific requirements that must be adhered to. That’s why it’s advisable to consult legal professionals experienced in property ownership to ensure compliance.

Disclaimer: The information on this website, including glossary definitions, is for educational and informational purposes only and not intended as professional advice. While we strive for accuracy, we make no guarantees regarding the completeness, reliability, or timeliness of the information provided. We are not liable for any loss or damage arising from your use of the site. Investment decisions in commercial real estate should be made based on individual due diligence and professional advice. Laws and regulations are subject to change; always consult legal and financial experts before making decisions.