O'Donnell noted, "If you own a home, and it is your primary residence, you have an automatic homestead exemption of $125,000. However, if you file a Declaration of Homestead at the Registry of Deeds, the exemption increases to $500,000. The Homestead Law provides a homeowner with limited protection against the forced sale of their primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000 if they have filed. This is especially important when you consider that for most of us, a home is our most valuable asset. Consumers should take steps to protect that asset."
Another feature of the Homestead Law is the allowance for the filing of an Elderly Homestead Declaration, which defines an elder as a person who is 62 years of age or older and provides protection of $500,000 for each qualified person.
The Register further noted, "In March of 2011, the Homestead Law was updated so that a valid Homestead is not terminated when refinancing a mortgage. Other changes that took place back in 2011 state that a Homestead can provide protections for a primary home even if it is held in a trust. The definition of a primary residence was also expanded to include a manufactured or mobile home."
|Register O'Donnell Promotes Massachusetts Homestead Act|
A Declaration of Homestead also protects the sale proceeds if the home is sold for up to one year after the date of the sale or on the date when a new home is purchased with the proceeds, whichever comes first. Additionally, if the home is damaged by a fire, for example, the insurance proceeds are protected for two years after the date of the fire or on the date when the home is reconstructed or a new home is purchased, whichever is earlier.
While the Homestead Statute provides important protections for homeowners, it is important to note that certain debts are exempt from protection under the Homestead Act. These include federal, state, and local tax liens, as well as mortgages contracted for the purchase of a primary home and nursing home liens. Most other mortgages, debts, and encumbrances existing prior to the filing of the Declaration of Homestead, along with probate court executions for spousal and child support, are also not covered under the Homestead Protection Statute.
Declarations of Homestead are recorded at the Registry of Deeds for a state-imposed fee of $36.00. Additional information about the Homestead Law and the forms are available at no cost by going to the Registry's website at www.norfolkdeeds.org.
Register O'Donnell concluded, "I want to reiterate that a Homestead provides limited protection against the forced sale of a homeowner's primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000. While the debt is still owed, homeowners can have peace of mind knowing that with a Declaration of Homestead recorded at the Registry of Deeds, their primary residence cannot be forcibly sold to satisfy most debts."
If you have any questions about a Homestead, please contact the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center at 781-461-6101, Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
To learn more about these and other Registry of Deeds events and initiatives, "like" us on Facebook at facebook.com/norfolkdeeds. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @norfolkdeeds.
The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is located at 649 High Street in Dedham. The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information. All land record research information can be found on the Registry's website www.norfolkdeeds.org. Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center via telephone at (781) 461-6101, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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