Stating that for many people their house is the most important financial asset that they will ever have, Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O'Donnell today reminded homeowners about filing for Homestead protection. Under Massachusetts law, a Homestead recording provides for limited protection against the forced sale of an individual's primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000.
"Protecting one's primary residence is a key objective for all homeowners," noted Register O'Donnell. "Additionally, homeowners who own property jointly and are age 62 and above, by statute can file an elderly homestead, which gives them additional protection," stated Register O'Donnell.
For all individuals who have an interest in their primary home - for example both spouses - they are jointly required to sign-up if they want to avail themselves of the full $500,000 protection.
Register O'Donnell noted that one of the major changes under the 2011 Law passed by the Massachusetts Legislature is that a valid homestead cannot be terminated when refinancing a mortgage. He also mentioned that another clarification of the statute is that a homestead can provide protections for a primary home kept in trust.
It is important to understand there are certain debts that are exempted from protection under the Homestead Act, such as federal, state and local tax liens, as well as mortgages contracted for the purchase of the 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 exempted from protection.
Homestead recordings can be filed 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.
Register O'Donnell concluded, "It is important to make clear that a Homestead protects consumers against the forced sale of their primary owned residence to satisfy unsecured debt. While the debt is still owed, homeowners will have the comfort of knowing that with a Hometead filed, their primary residence cannot be forcibly sold to satisfy most debts."
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The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, located at 649 High Street, Dedham is the principal office for real property in Norfolk County. The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information. Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center via telephone at (781) 461-6101, or on the web at www.norfolkdeeds.org.