How Married Couples Should Title Newly Acquired Property

Posted about 5 years ago. 4 helpful votes



Review currently held assets

Assets already owned by a married couple may already have been set up as TBE property, in which event nothing further need be done. Some times, the "magic" words "tenants by the entireties" may not appear on a deed but instead the words "Joe and Mary, Husband and Wife" and the TBE ownership is still established as a matter of law. In some states, use of the words "Husband and Wife" on a bank account or car title will create the legal presumption tht the property is held TBE.


Be careful when buying vehicles

To avoid any uncertainty, make sure that any contract to purchase specifies that the buyers are "X and Y, Husband and Wife, TBE" Do not let the sales person tell you there is no room on their form, it can always be handwritten onto what the computer printer delivers and initialed.


Be careful to have the car title/registration prepared

If possible, have the car title reflect that the title is held as "X and Y, Husband and Wife", as well as the vehicle registration. If the DMV can not/will not accomodate that request, ensure that the title is made out "X and Y" instead of "X or Y" "X and Y" is an asset protection method for vehicles dless of whether they are married. "X or Y" would require only one signature on the title to sell the vehicle, but "X and Y" requires both signatures. As a result, to take a vehicle using "X and Y" is tantamount to taking property belonging to someone who has not been sued, and is improper.


Be careful when opening bank accounts

Here, it is the contract with the bank, not what is on the check or the bank statement, that will govern, and so it is important that the documents signed setting up the account be specific, as that is the document which establishes the ownership interest.


Be careful not to simply change account names or titles

Merely adding a name to an already existing bank account, or a vehicle already owned, is not sufficient. To create a TBE, the asset must be purchased by both spouses, or the account opened by both spouses, AT THE SAME TIME.


Be careful not to commit fraud

The transfer of an asset from a spouse owing money to a spouse, or to some other family member, or a business associates, or a friend, without receiving equivalent fair market value for the asset, can be considered a fraud against the creditor. The creditor can then go against the person receiving the asset to the extent of the value of the item transfered. That also applies to liens placed on titles to cars, boats, trailers, etc., as the security interest given is itself a property right. If the family member/friend/business associates legitimately aquires the assets by giving money or other consideration to support the transfer, make sure to leave a paper trail to show what was done with the money--paying bills, for example . You do not want to give creditor the opening to claim that the payment of money was a sham and that the money went back to the person to whom the title was transferred.

Additional Resources

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