Update to the Massachusetts Homestead Law

     Although the Massachusetts homestead law is not new, being enacted in 1851, it still causes confusion to homeowners as to what protection it affords.  An estate of homestead is a type of protection for a person’s residence from most creditors.  It allows homeowners in Massachusetts to protect their property up to five hundred thousand ($500,000) dollars.

     In December, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law St.2010, c.______ (S2406), An Act Relative to the Estate of Homestead.  This legislation, which goes into effect March 16, 2011, makes several changes to the current homestead law:

  • Automatically protects up to $125,000 in home equity without filing
  • Protects up to $500,000 for those that file for homestead protection
  • Allows spouses to both file, currently only one may file
  • Clarifies that there is no need to re-file after refinancing
  • Allows trustee to file for homestead for homes transferred into trust
     In the past, you were required to file a declaration of homestead to gain the protection from creditors. With the new legislation, every homeowner will receive an automatic $125,000, regardless of filing.  If you do file a declaration of homestead, you will still receive the $500,000 of home equity protection. Even more important, for those that have transferred their homes into trust, the Trustee may now file for homestead on behalf of the beneficiaries.

If you have recently refinanced, or transferred your home into a trust, or have any questions regarding your current homestead status, please do not hesitate to contact our office.