Chapter 395 of the Acts of 2010, AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE ESTATE OF HOMESTEAD, revises and replaces the provisions of the Massachusetts Homestead Act, G.L. c. 188. The amendment provides additional definition and clarifies a number of uncertainties in the existing statute. The Act was approved by Governor Deval L. Patrick on December 16, 2010 and took effect on March 16, 2011.

An Estate of Homestead is a type of protection for a person’s residence. It allows homeowners in Massachusetts to protect up to a certain value of their primary residence, per family, from general creditors.

Some of the highlights of the Act are:

  • Automatic homestead exemption of $125,000.00 for every homeowner in Massachusetts.
  • Maximum regular homestead exemption of $500,000.00, one of the largest in the country. (This type of homestead still requires a Declaration of Homestead to be declared and filed with the Registry of Deeds.)
  • No need to re-declare a homestead exemption after refinancing.
  • Availability of homestead exemptions for properties in trust.
  • Elimination of the pre-existing debt exclusion.
  • Protection by Declaration for proceeds from the sale of a home for up to 1 year.
  • Protection by Declaration for proceeds from a fire or other casualty loss for up to 2 years.
  • Closing attorneys must inform borrowers about the automatic homestead protection and provide borrowers the opportunity to declare a $500,000.00 Homestead Declaration.

Click here to read the text of the legislation: Massachusetts Homestead Act (2011).