The Homestead Act

Massachusetts Declaration of Homestead

UPDATE: The Homestead Act just changed on March 16th.

You ARE affected if you plan to purchase or refinance a home, or if you are considering filing a Declaration of Homestead to protect your house from creditors.

The new law…

  • Automatically protects up to $125,000 in home equity for those who do not file a Declaration of Homestead, and up to $500,000 for those who do file
  • Allows spouses who share a home to both file for protection
  • Clarifies that there is no need to re-file after refinancing
  • Provides coverage for homes held in trusts

Questions about the changes to the Homestead law? Call us at 877-SPILLANE.

An Estate of Homestead protects the first $500,000 in equity in the land and buildings of a primary residence against claims by creditors after the Estate in Homestead has been declared. Equity is the value of the property beyond what is owed in mortgages and other liens. Both individuals and families can be protected under an Estate of Homestead. Typically, the equity protected by a Homestead Declaration is the most important asset for a homeowner because it represents the net value of a house.

Estates of Homestead are declared by filing a document called a “Declaration of Homestead” and paying a fee to the Registry of Deeds in the county where the property is located. The declaration need only be made in one person’s name, but the homestead will continue for the lives of both the possessor and spouse, and can be passed on to any minor unmarried children after the death of the possessor.

The homestead can be terminated either automatically by law or voluntarily by the possessor. If a new primary residence is acquired, the previous estate automatically ends, but if a residence is refinanced, a lender may require the possessor to file paperwork to end the homestead, which may trigger a renewal of the declaration.

The Homestead Act is an important tool that all homeowners should take advantage of. Our attorneys can answer any questions you may have about an Estate of Homestead or other real estate topics.