A Declaration of Homestead is a type of protection for a person’s primary residence. The Declaration of Homestead is a form that is filed at the Registry of Deeds in the county where the property is located, referencing the title/deed to the property. It allows homeowners in Massachusetts to protect their property up to five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) of the value from civil attachment.
A Declaration of Homestead will not provide protection against:
- federal, state and local taxes, assessments, claims, and liens;
- mortgages used to purchase the residence, and in the case of the elderly homestead, first and second mortgages held by financial institutions or others;
- an execution issued from the Probate Court to enforce its judgment that a spouse pay for the support of a spouse or minor children;
- where buildings on land not owned by the declarant of a Homestead estate are attached, levied upon or sold for the ground rent of the lot whereon they stand;
- upon an execution issued from a court of competent jurisdiction to enforce its judgment based upon fraud, mistake, duress, undue influence or lack of capacity;
- debts contracted prior to the acquisition of the homestead.
A Homestead Declaration protects a homeowner only from unsecured creditors. It does not offer protection from first or second mortgage lenders or equity lenders who possess a security interest in a home. If payments are not current on these types of secured credit, a homeowner may lose their home to foreclosure.
A Homestead Declaration is not a substitute for home hazard or liability insurance.