WHAT IS A HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION?
A Homestead Declaration protects a Massachusetts resident’s primary residence from creditors. All homeowners have an automatic homestead protection of $125,000. This automatic protection is not likely to be sufficient coverage to protect the full value of your home. You can protect the value of their property up to $500,000 by filing a document called a “Declaration of Homestead” at the Registry of Deeds in the county or district where the property is located.
WHO CAN FILE FOR HOMESTEAD PROTECTION?
The owner, or owners, of a home who occupy or intend to occupy the home as their primary residence may file a homestead protection. A sole owner, joint tenant, tenant by the entirety, tenant in common, life estate holder, or holder of a beneficial interest in a trust may all be regarded as owners. With respect to a home owned by joint tenants or tenants by the entirety, the homestead exemption remains whole and unallocated between the owners. If there are more than two joint tenant owners, there is ability to add an additional $250,000 to the exemption amount for additional joint tenants in certain cases. Manufactured or mobile homeowners are also eligible to declare homestead protection under the provisions of the law.
ELDER AND DISABILITY PROTECTIONS
If you 62 or over or disabled and there are other owners of your property, you can protect more than $500,000. In that case, each owner can protect $500,000 of equity, so a married couple can protect up to $1 million from creditors. In order to obtain this protection, you will have to file a new homestead declaration when you reach age 62 or become disabled.
WHERE DO I FILE A DECLARATION OF HOMESTEAD?
Each homestead must be filed in the county or district Registry of Deeds in which the residence is located. This is also true of mobile or manufactured homes, even though you do not have a deed on record. Homestead forms may be obtained at www.sec.state.ma.us/rod and most Registries of Deeds. (Links to your county or district’s website are also available.) Be sure the form is filled out completely and has been properly notarized and remember to enclose a check for the $35.00 recording fee made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts when sending in your completed form If you include a stamped self-addressed envelope with your filing, the registry will send back the Declaration of Homestead with certification that it has been recorded.
OBLIGATIONS NOT PROTECTED BY DECLARATION OF HOMESTEAD
The following debts or financial obligations are exempt from the homestead law:
- federal, state and local taxes, assessments, claims, and liens;
- a mortgage on the home;
- an execution issued from the Probate Court to enforce its judgment that a spouse pay for the support of a spouse, former spouse or minor children;
- where buildings on land not owned by the owner of a homestead estate are attached, levied upon or sold for the ground rent of the lot where they stand;
- upon an execution issued from a court of competent jurisdiction to enforce its judgment based upon fraud, mistake, duress, undue influence, or lack of capacity;
- a lien on the home recorded prior to the creation of the homestead.
You can get more information about homesteads, as well as links to forms here: https://www.masslegalhelp.org/consumer/debt/court/homestead-protection. For answers to specific questions, please contact a licensed attorney.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.
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