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Closing on a house next week (hopefully) and the closing attorney said something about tenancy by the entirety. Is that a Massachusetts legal term, or what does it mean?

 
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Editor's Response

In Massachusetts, a tenancy by the entirety is a joint tenancy (or ownership) that arises between a husband and wife when a single instrument (a) conveys property to both of them and (b) states that they take the property as "husband and wife, tenants by the entirety."  
 
Some characteristics of the tenancy by the entirety under Massachusetts law: (1) This form of ownership can only arise between husband and wife. (Given that Massachusetts recognizes same sex marriage, perhaps I should say between married couples): (2) The husband and wife must acquire their interest through the same deed or will; (3) When either the husband or wife dies, the survivor automatically acquires title to the other's share of the property (unlike a tenancy in common, where two or more persons own undivided share with equal rights to possess the entire property, but there is no right of survivorship); (4) If the couple divorces, the tenancy by the entirety is converted into a tenancy in common (no right of survivorship).

A tenancy by the entirety has

A tenancy by the entirety has to be explicitly mentioned in the deed.

M.G.L. c. 184 s. 7 states:

A conveyance or devise of land to two or more persons or to husband and wife, except a mortgage or a devise or conveyance in trust, shall create an estate in common and not in joint tenancy, unless it is expressed in such conveyance or devise that the grantees or devisees shall take jointly, or as joint tenants, or in joint tenancy, or to them and the survivor of them, or unless it manifestly appears from the tenor of the instrument that it was intended to create an estate in joint tenancy. A devise of land to a person and his spouse shall, if the instrument creating the devise expressly so states, vest in the devisees a tenancy by the entirety.

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