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WBK Industry News - State Regulatory Developments

Virginia Updates Tenancy by the Entirety Law

The Virginia Legislature has revised Virginia’s rules concerning the dissolution of a tenancy by the entirety. Effective July 1, 2017, in order to sever a tenancy by the entirety using a written instrument, one must use a deed signed by both spouses as grantors. Otherwise, the transfer of the property will not result in the dissolution of the estate and the property will remain in a tenancy by the entirety.

A tenancy by the entirety is a form of ownership of real property whereby a married couple own property together as a single legal entity, which usually protects the property from a creditor of one spouse or the other. Generally, real property held in a tenancy by the entirety cannot be conveyed absent the consent of both spouses.

The amendment in question was enacted in response to Evans v. Evans, a 2015 Virginia Supreme Court decision, which held that a deed from one spouse to the other, along with evidence of acceptance by the other spouse, would fulfill the requirement for consent – even if only one spouse was listed as the grantor.

Responding to the decision of the Virginia Supreme Court and a recommendation by the Boyd-Graves Conference (a Virginia organization made up of lawyers from various practice areas across the state), the Virginia legislature clarified that a tenancy by the entirety may not be severed unless the deed conveying the property is signed by both spouses as grantors.

A copy of the bill may be found here: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?171+ful+HB2050ER.