The Declaration of Homestead (Mass General Laws Ch 188 s1-10) is a type of protection for a person's principal place of residence (including mobile home). It protects the residence from the claims of creditors up to $500,000 so long as the person continues to occupy that residence. The simple form can be downloaded on the Registry of Deeds website; it is filled out and filed with the Registry of Deeds for a $35 fee. There is an automatic homestead protection of $125,000 with respect to a home that does not declare a homestead exemption with the Registry of Deeds.
"Questions and Answers" are also available on the Secretary of the Commonwealth's website.
There are 2 types:
1. Elderly/Disabled - Each individual homeowner who is at least 62 yrs of age or who is disabled and unable to work is protected to the extent of $500,000 each, regardless of marital status & regardless of whether such declaration is filed jointly or individually. If 2 owners qualify, the aggregate protection shall be one million dollars. Note: each elderly protection terminates upon the person's death.
2. Regular - Other owners are protected to the extent of $500,000 per residence, per family. With respect to a home owned by joint tenants or tenants by the entirety, the homestead exemption remains whole and unallocated between the owners.
Debt not protected by the Homestead Act includes:
-federal, state, or local taxes, assessments, claims and liens (including liens imposed by the Mass. Dept of Public Welfare as a result of the payment of Medicaid/MassHealth benefits)
-liens on the home recorded prior to the creation of the homestead;
-a mortgage on the home;
-Probate Court orders for spousal or child support
As in all areas of the law, to fully understand your rights, you should consult an attorney of your choice.
Last formal update: 2/2019