Register O'Donnell Promotes Massachusetts Homestead Act
With foreclosures suddenly on the rise, Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell issued a press release earlier this week to remind Norfolk County homeowners about the importance of filing for Homestead protection.
O’Donnell noted, “If you own a home, and it is your primary residence, you have an automatic homestead exemption of $125,000. However, if you file a Declaration of Homestead at the Registry of Deeds, the exemption increases to $500,000. The Homestead law provides a homeowner with limited protection against the forced sale of their primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000 if they have filed. This is especially important when you consider that for most of us, a home is our most valuable asset. Consumers should take steps to protect that asset.”
Another feature of the Homestead law is the allowance for the filing of an Elderly Homestead Declaration, which defines an elder as a person who is 62 years of age or older and provides protection of $500,000 for each qualified person.
The Register further noted, “Back in March of 2011, the Homestead law was updated so that a valid Homestead cannot be terminated when refinancing a mortgage. Other changes that took place back in 2011 state that a Homestead can provide protections for a primary home even if it is held in a trust. The definition of a primary residence was also expanded to include a manufactured or mobile home.”
While the Homestead statute provides important protections for homeowners, it is important to note there are certain debts that are exempted from protection under the Homestead Act. These include federal, state and local tax liens, as well as mortgages contracted for the purchase of a primary home and nursing home liens. Most other mortgages, debts, and encumbrances existing prior to the filing of the Declaration of Homestead, along with probate court executions for spousal and child support, are also not covered under the Homestead protection statute.
Declarations of Homestead are recorded at the Registry of Deeds for a state imposed fee of $36.00. Additional information about the Homestead law, and the forms are available at no cost by going to the Registry’s website at www.norfolkdeeds.org.
Register O’Donnell concluded, “I want to reiterate that a Homestead provides limited protection against the forced sale of a homeowner’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000. While the debt is still owed, homeowners can have peace of mind knowing that with a Homestead recorded at the Registry of Deeds, their primary residence cannot be forcibly sold to satisfy most debts. If you have any questions about a Homestead, please contact our Customer Service Center at 781-461-6101, Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30AM-4:30PM. Our trained staff are more than willing to answer any questions you may have.”
The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds is located at 649 High Street in Dedham. The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information. All land record research information can be found on the Registry’s website www.norfolkdeeds.org. Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center via telephone at (781) 461-6101, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.