In MA, Do We Need to Refile Our Homestead Declarations After Age 62 for Maximum Protection?
First of all, I love your new book! Lots of valuable info. Anyways, my wife and I live in Massachusetts and set up a Homestead Declaration in each of our names when we purchased our home 10 or so years ago when we were in our fifties. The home is now mortgage-free and we are 62 and 63. Do we need to refile our Declarations to get the higher $1 million protection or is it done automatically?
Thank you for your comment about my book.
Yes, you do have to refile the homestead declarations to get the increased protection. In Massachusetts, you have an automatic $125,000 homestead protection on your home and can file a homestead declaration to bring this protection up to $500,000 in the event of a lawsuit. This does not supersede a mortgage on the property, but would protect your equity in the home from any unsecured creditors. In most cases, this comes into play in bankruptcy proceedings.
The normal homestead protection is for a maximum of $500,000 even though a married couple may both have an interest in the property and both may have filed a homestead declaration. However, if both are disabled or age 62 or older, they may, in effect, “stack” their protection so that together they can protect $1 million of equity. In order to do so, they must refile the declarations after they reach age 62 or become disabled.
Filing the homestead declaration means recording it with your county’s registry of deed. You use this form. The recording fee is $35.
Massachusetts Secretary of State’s Questions and Answers
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If I have a declaration of homestead, which I do. Does it expire? Do I need to ever declare again? I remember my attorney saying something. Does it expire after 20 yrs?
Homestead protections are creatures of state law, so this depends on the state in which you live. What state are you in?