Massachusetts Agencies

Conveyances between Spouses


In Bernatavicius v. Bernatavicius, 259 Mass. 486, 156 N.E. 685 (1927) (the case which held that a divorce would sever a tenancy by the entirety) our court, although intimating that it might be possible, stated that it did not have to decide whether a deed from a one spouse to another would pass title when they held as tenants by the entirety.

However, in Hale v. Hale, 332 Mass 329, 125 N.E.2d 142 (1955)[1] the issue was raised again and the court, citing Bernatavicius, decided that under the Chapter 558 of the Acts of 1912, which amended G.L.c. 209, one spouse could put an end to a tenancy by the entirety by conveying his or her interest directly to the other.

Creation of Tenancy by Deed of One Spouse to Both

Under Ames v. Chandler, 265 Mass. 428, 164 N.E. 616 (1929) it was decided that a husband could not, by way of his deed to himself and his spouse, create a tenancy by the entirety with her. The court nearly reconsidered the issue in Edge v. Barrow, 316 Mass. 104, 55 N.E.2d 5 (1944), but felt that such a reconsideration was unnecessary under the facts. But now see G.L.c. 184, §8, passed in 1954 which permits such conveyances.

Necessity to Record Deed

Under prior law a deed between spouses had to be recorded (not simply delivered) to be effective. For an interesting case on this issue, which revolved around the question of the acknowledgment on the deed, see Gordon v. Gordon, 8 Mass.App.Ct. 860, 398 N.E.2d 497.

1 Cited in Park, Massachusetts Practice, Real Estate Law, Second Edition, §51.