Homestead protection protects the value of the homes of residents from creditors and circumstances arising from the death of the homeowner spouse. Each state has it's own specific provisions regarding requirements and degrees of protection. Some states allow for a greater protection than others. Florida, for instance, has the broadest degree of homestead protection in the United States – that means homes in Florida are the most protected! Texas, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma have broad protections as well.
Homestead laws have the following features in common (in general):
- They prevent forced sale of home to meet demands of creditors.
- They provide the surviving spouse with shelter.
- They provide an exemption from property taxes – which can be applied to a home.
- They allow a tax-exempt homeowner to vote on property tax increases.
The "homestead" must be the primary residence of the homeowner to qualify for protection. Only one property is eligible for protection (even outside of the state where exemption is claimed). In some states, the protection is automatic – and in others, you have to file with the state to claim your exemption. If the exempted property is abandoned (homeowner takes up primary residence elsewhere) – then the exemption is lost or abandoned as well.
Some states may also impose an acre limit inside and outside a municipality. A municipality is determined to be city limits (more acreage is generally protected outside of a municipality). For instance, Florida allows protection of a half acre inside a municipality and 160 acres outside a municipality.
There may also be a durational requirement before protection is maximized.
The homestead exemption should be you're first step in your Asset Protection strategy (if you haven't already exempted your primary home). Homestead protection creditor proofs your primary home, which often, is one of your most valued and important assets.
Yes, You Can Lose Everything!
You may think that your wealth is safe and that you don't need protection. But don't delude yourself and accept reality — for every 60 minutes you spend making money, spend 60 seconds thinking about how to protect it!