Chapter 395 of the Acts of 2010, an Act Relative to the Estate of Homestead, revises and replaces the provisions of the Massachusetts homestead protection law, General Laws Chapter 188. An overview of the new Homestead reform legislation, effective on March 16, 2011, is provided in Secretary’s Galvin’s Homestead Act Questions and Answers pamphlet.
If you filed a homestead declaration prior to March 16, 2011, your $500,000 protection will continue to apply. There is no need to re-file your homestead protections due to these statutory changes. The new law creates an automatic $125,000 protection on homes that do not have a homestead declaration filed at the Registry of Deeds in order to safeguard deposits and situations where a declaration may be incorrectly filed. Homestead protections now extend to pre-existing debts and the proceeds of a sale or insurance coverage.
Trusts are now eligible for homestead protections. For those individuals over the age of 62 (elderly) or legally disabled, the new law now expressly states that a homestead may be filed on each individual’s behalf and the aggregate protection increases to $1 million. Homestead declarations filed on manufactured homes must now be filed at the local Registry of Deeds, not the town offices.
If you are purchasing your new principal residence, your closing attorney must provide you, as a mortgagor, with notice of your right to declare a homestead protection. At that time, you will be asked to acknowledge receipt of this notice in writing.
If you have any further questions or concerns about how the Registry of Deeds can assist you in filing a declaration of Homestead, please do not hesitate to contact the Registry of Deeds office directly. We are here to serve you.
This information is not designed to provide any legal advice or address the practical effect of a claim of Homestead. As in all areas of the law, to fully understand what your rights are you should consult an attorney of your choice.
Be sure to speak with a qualified bankruptcy attorney to understand how the new homestead law may affect your bankruptcy filing.
Check out the many Massachusetts Registry of Deeds for Homestead information.