As of March 16, 2011 the provisions of Chapter 395 of the Acts of 2010, An Act Relative to the Estate of Homestead take effect. This amendment defines and clarifies the former controlling statute, M.G.L.A. Chapter 188.
A Declaration of Homestead protects an individual´s home equity against attachment or seizure from debts incurred by the individual. The Declaration of Homestead is valid if a person occupies or intends to occupy the home as their principal residence with their family.
The amendment creates an Automatic Homestead of $125,000.00 which is available to all homeowners in Massachusetts regardless of whether a Declaration of Homestead is recorded in the Registry of Deeds or Land Court.
If a homeowner is recording a Declaration of Homestead the act provides for a maximum of $500,000 of protection:
- If the individual recording the Homestead is 61 years of age or younger, the Homestead protects the equity in the property to the extent of $500,000.00.
- If the individual recording the Homestead is 62 years of age or older, or if they are disabled, the Homestead protects the equity in the home to the extent of $500,000.00. Couples, who are both 62 years of age or older, are each entitled to the protection of $500,000.00. In the case of a Disabled Person Homestead, a social security disability award letter or a letter from a physician is required for recording.
Some important clarifications include, but are not limited to:
- Manufactured homes are now eligible to declare a homestead.
- A Beneficiary of a Trust is now eligible to declare a homestead.
- Ownership matters. Joint Tenants and Tenants by the Entirety are not allocated a percentage of the exemption value, meaning that it remains unallocated per capita. However, Tenants in Common and Trust Beneficiaries receive a share of the exemption which is allocated by percentage of ownership.
- Termination of the homestead exemption will no longer result from transfers among family members or the recoding of a mortgage.
- Real Estate Closing. When you purchase a home and mortgage the property. The closing attorney must provide you with written notice of your right to declare the protections of the Homestead.
This information was derived from Chapter 395 of the Acts of 2010 and M.G.L.A. Chapter 188.