During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, where the focus is understandably on the health and safety of our families, friends and neighbors, Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell is reminding Norfolk County homeowners about the importance of filing for Homestead protection.
O’Donnell noted, “As your elected Norfolk County Register of Deeds, I am pleased to inform county homeowners about a valuable consumer protection tool. Indeed, for most of us our home is the most important financial asset we have. If you own a home, and it is your primary residence, one way to protect it is to file a Homestead. 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.”
Another feature of the Homestead law is the allowance for a filing of an Elderly Homestead application, which defines an elder as a person who is 62 years of age or older. This protection can be increased if the elderly couple are each 62 years of age or older and file jointly.
The Register further noted, “Back in March of 2011, the Homestead law was updated by an act of the Massachusetts Legislature. Current law states a valid Homestead cannot be terminated when refinancing a mortgage. Other enhancements that took place back in 2011 state that a Homestead can provide protections for a primary home even if it is kept in trust. The definition of a primary residence was also further expanded to include a manufactured or mobile home.”
While a Homestead 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.
Homestead documents are recorded at the Registry of Deeds for a state imposed fee of $36.00. To find out more about the Homestead law, or to get a free application, please go online to the Registry’s website at www.norfolkdeeds.org or contact the Registry’s Customer Service Center at 781-461-6101.
Register O’Donnell concluded, “My office stands ready to answer any questions you may have relative to the Homestead law. 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.”
To learn more about these and other Registry of Deeds events and initiatives, like us at Facebook/com/NorfolkDeeds or follow us on twitter.com/NorfolkDeeds and/or Instagram.com/NorfolkDeeds.
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 email@example.com.