The new Massachusetts Homestead Law goes into effect today, March 16, 2011. Secretary of State William Galvin provides a brief summary of the new law on his website.

In addition, the new Homestead forms are now available for download. There are two available forms:

1. Homestead for Individual Owners, including those over 62 years.
If both spouses are over 62 years old, each should file their own Declaration of Homestead. This will protect the property if one spouse passes away. Another change for the better is that when the second spouse files, the filing date will go back to the date of the first filing. Before today, any new filing would automatically have voided the earlier filing, possibly subjecting the property to any claims for the dates between the two filings.

2. Homestead for Property in a Trust.
This is completely new form because, for the first time, Massachusetts allows trustees to sign and record the Declaration of Homestead.
In December I wrote about some of the changes that come with the new Homestead Law. Among them are:

  • Automatic protection of $125,000.00 even if no Declaration of Homestead is filed;
  • $500,000 worth of protection if a Declaration of Homestead is filed at the Registry of Deeds; and
  • Trustee(s) are now allowed to sign and file a Declaration of Homestead.

Some parts of the Homestead Law remain the same:

  • The filing fee is still $35.00;
  • The Declaration of Homestead must still be filed in the Registry of Deeds in which the property is located;
  • Filing a Declaration of Homestead will not protect against claims from Medicaid when the recipient dies; a mortgage secured by the property; or a judgment for spousal or child support.

Secretary Galvin also has a booklet available: Questions and Answers: The Homestead Act.

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