New York recognizes tenancy by the entirety for real property conveyed to husband and wife, unless there is documentation that
another form of ownership exists. In addition, after January 1, 1996, a disposition
of shares of stock of a cooperative apartment corporation allocated to an apartment
together with the proprietary lease to a husband and wife creates a tenancy by the
entirety unless there is documentation of another form of ownership.
If the legal relationship between husband and wife is judicially altered through divorce,
annulment, or legal separation, the tenancy by the entirety converts to a tenancy
in common. Where, however, the husband and wife separate as a result of their own
agreement without the aid of a judicial decree, they continue to own the property
as tenants by the entirety. Tenancy by the entirety also ends with the death of one
spouse with the survivor having full rights in the entire property.
Property held as tenants by the entirety may only be sold with the consent of both
parties. Where individuals are joint tenants or tenants in common, assume the individual
has the right to sell his/her interest in the property in the absence of other legal
Although a spouse cannot sell his/her share of property held as tenants by the entirety,
he/she is permitted to sell, mortgage or otherwise encumber his or her rights in the
property, subject to the continuing rights of the other. If the spouse who sells his
or her interest in the property predeceases the spouse whose interest in the property
has been retained, the buyer is left with no interest in the property at all. Conversely,
if the spouse who retained his/her interest in the property dies first, then the buyer
acquires full rights to the property unencumbered by the living spouse's former interest,
i.e., the buyer owns the property outright.