Is Old Massachusetts Homestead Declaration Still Valid?
Regarding your article “What Protection Do Homestead…,” and regarding the clause, “signed under pains and penalty of perjury,” we filed the official Mass form in 2008 which did not include the clause. On the Mass Homestead FAQ page, it says, “Q: If I filed before the new law passed, do I need to refile? A: If you filed a homestead declaration prior to March 16, 2011, your $500,000 protection will continue to apply. You don’t need to re-file your homestead protections.” Yet your article implies that ANY form previously filed without the perjury declaration is only good for $125k. Do we have to file a new homestead exemption or not, to maintain the higher level of protection?
That’s a good question and you are correct that if you had a homestead declaration filed before the 2011 change to the law it’s still valid. The new law added the $125,000 automatic protection but did not change the $500,000 protection upon filing a homestead declaration, so prior homestead filings still apply.The current law does require that the homestead declaration by signed “under the pains and penalties of perjury.” I don’t know if the prior law had this requirement, the law, M.G.L. Ch. 188, is very clear in its Section 3 that: “All existing estates of homestead in effect on the effective date of this act shall continue in full force and effect notwithstanding the repeal of any law under which they were created.”
However, depending on your age then, your age now, and your marital status, you may want to file a new homestead declaration. Homeowners under age 62 may only protect the first $500,000 of equity in the home. Homeowners who are disabled or 62 years old or older may protect up to $500,000 for each owner. So if there’s more than one owner of the property and you are now over age 62, you should consider recording new homestead declarations.
Thank you for bringing my attention to the Secretary of State’s webpage, which does a great job of answering many questions about homestead protections in Massachusetts.