Tenancy by the Entirety: Extra Creditor Protection for Married Couples

Published in Commercial Law on December 2, 2016

It is not common for anyone to incur a debt that they cannot pay on purpose. All it takes is a little bad luck, and debts can begin to pile up fast.  When you find yourself subjected to creditors and collections, are there any additional creditor protections available for married couples?

In Missouri, the answer is “yes,” but only for debt owed by you alone and not also by your spouse.  To be more specific, in Missouri married couples enjoy a special creditor protection called “tenancy by the entirety” ownership.  What that means, in a nutshell, is that if you are married and owe a debt alone (i.e. your spouse is not obligated on the debt with you), then your creditors cannot enforce collection against any property that you own jointly with your spouse.

For example, under the above scenario, your real estate would be off limits to your creditors if it is owned jointly with your spouse; and your vehicles would be off limits to your creditors as well if they were titled jointly with your spouse. Additionally, your bank accounts and other “intangible” accounts (savings accounts, etc.) would be off limits so long as they were owned jointly with your spouse.

In short, being married can certainly have some advantages in certain circumstances in Missouri if you find yourself on hard times with your creditors. Please schedule a consultation with your attorney to learn more about creditor protection and exemptions from collection available in the State of Missouri.