When a married couple buy real estate together, they can do it in a legal arrangement called "tenancy by the entirety." In other forms of joint ownership, individual owners can sell their stakes independently; in tenancy by the entirety, the spouses have to sell together or not at all. In Florida, if a couple own property by the entirety, creditors with a claim against only one spouse cannot claim the property to satisfy the debt. Turning other forms of ownership into tenancy by the entirety can be a good asset-protection strategy.
Draw up a deed transferring title from the spouse who owns it to both spouses jointly. To own by the entirety in Florida, the Coleman Law Firm states online that you have to be married and you have to take title at the same time. If you didn't buy the property together, a deed transfer from spouse to spouse is the only solution. You can obtain a blank deed at the local deed registry or download one from a website selling legal forms.
Fill out the deed.The Coleman Law Firm states that a married couple jointly taking title to Florida property automatically owns it by the entireties, so there's no need to specify this on the deed. According to the Florida Tax Sale Foreclosure Info website, the deed must identify the spouse transferring title as the "grantor," the spouse receiving title as the "grantee" and state their marital status. The deed must include the address of the property and the legal description in the county registry, which will usually be by platting or a boundary description.
Make the deed legal. Florida is one of the states that requires deeds include signatures from two witnesses. You'll also need to have a notary sign and seal the deed and acknowledge the names of the grantor and grantee, Florida Tax Sale Foreclosure Info states.
Record the deed in the Florida county where the property is located. According to the Orange County Comptroller's Office, you'll have to pay a "doc tax" on the transfer; in 2010, Florida set the tax at 70 cents for each $100 of actual value.
If you and your spouse own jointly as tenants in common or joint tenants, you can use the same process to transfer title to yourselves as tenants by entirety. The only difference will be that there will be two grantors instead of one.
Florida attorney Jonathan Alper states that tenancy by the entirety isn't a perfect asset-protection tool because if you and your spouse divorce, ownership immediately converts to joint tenancy. The same happens if either spouse dies. To be tenants by the entirety, a couple must share equal control of the property. A legal agreement that gave one spouse greater rights in the property could convert the ownership to joint tenancy or tenancy in common.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.