Glossary t


Tenancy by the Entirety

A tenancy by the entirety may only be created by a married couple. In a tenancy by the entirety, spouses own property together and each spouse has an undivided, complete interest in the property. Because of this, neither spouse may give away or sell his or her interest in the property without the express permission of the other spouse. When one spouse dies, the other takes on a full and automatic ownership interest in the whole of the property through a right of survivorship.

In a tenancy by the entirety, the spouses own the property together as a single entity in the eyes of the law. This means that creditors of an individual spouse cannot reach that spouse’s interest in the property. Only creditors of both spouses together may reach the property. In the case of divorce or annulment, couples generally eliminate the tenancy by the entirety. Couples also might change the title of the property together to eliminate the tenancy by the entirety.

Tenancy in Common

A tenancy in common is a type of property ownership. In a tenancy in common two or more owners possess a share of the property. The shares can be equal or unequal, but all owners have the right to use the entirety of the property. The shares of ownership in a tenancy in common also can be transferred during the life of the owner and the ownership interest is passed after death through a will.

Testamentary Trust

A testamentary trust is a trust created by a will. The will states what property is to be placed in the trust, who the beneficiaries are, and who the trustee is.


A testator is a person who makes a will. Testatrix is the female form of the word.

Transfer on Death (TOD)

Transfer on death generally applies to investments and brokerage accounts. If there is a transfer on death designation, the assets pass to the person and/or organization designated by the original owner. Because the assets pass outside of a will, the assets are like nonprobate assets and might not be subject to designations in a will or estate taxes.


Generally, a trustee is a person who manages the assets of a trust for the benefit of self and/or others, depending on the type of trust involved.