Massachusetts homestead law changes for the better

Legislators changing laws for the benefit of the average citizen?

Before you allow your deep-rooted cynicism to set in, it actually is occurring in Massachusetts today.

I wrote back in December that sweeping changes to the Massachusetts homestead laws were slated to take effect in mid-March. Well, March is here, so time for a review of the new homestead law:

From here on in, it will ot be absolutely necessary to file a homestead declaration with the county Registry of Deeds in order to have homestead protection. Even without filing, if you live in a building as your home, you will have a $125,000 omestead automatically.

You can still file the paperwork, however, and those who do get more benefit from the law. They can declare a homestead of up to $500,000 which should cover most homes in the greater Lawrence area.

And couples who are over 62 or disabled will get double the protection — up to $1 million if both partners file a homestead declaration.

The new law also protects — for the first time — those who create real estate trusts for their homes and those who refinance homes or sell them to a relative.

Homestead law protections are vital if a bankruptcy case is needed — a fresh start isn’t much of one if your house gets seized in the process. But proper homestead protection will let you keep it.

The fee for filing a homsetead declaration remains $35; if you live in Lawrence, Methuen, North Andover, or Andover, you file it at the Registry of Deeds in Lawrence. If you live in Haverhill, Georgetown, or anywhere else in Essex County, you file it in the Registry of Deeds in Salem. Bankruptcy lawyers deal with homestead issues all the time; if you have any questions, you call call me at (978) 975 – 2608 for a quick review.


By Doug Beaton

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