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Homestead laws

Information on the law about HomesteadLimitations

Homestead laws are designed to protect small individual property owners, such as homeowners, from the everchanging economic climate of the United States. Often when the economy changes, small property owners are unable to meet the demands of their creditors. Homestead laws allow an individual to register a portion of his real and personal property as "homestead," thereby making that portion of the individual's estate off-limits to most creditors. The idea behind these homestead laws is the preservation of the family farm, home, or other assets in the face of severe economic conditions.

The items and amounts of money that can be set aside as a homestead are varied. The rules governing which property can be registered as homestead property seem to adhere to regional patterns. Real property that may be subject to the homestead exemptions vary in value from a $300 exemption from judgments in Pennsylvania to a $200,000 exemption for persons over age sixty-two in Massachusetts. They vary in character from the District of Columbia's allowable homestead of $200 worth of tools, and, if a professional, $300 worth of furniture, and $300 in clothes per person, to Colorado's unlimited acreage or Texas's 200 acres. In each case, the property that may be homesteaded is designed to perpetuate the family's estate and improve its chances for survival in hard times.

The homestead is a back-up and a type of insurance against unexpected catastrophe; it will not ordinarily protect you from a bad business deal or from ordinary bankruptcy. Nonetheless, because an unscrupulous person could manipulate the homestead protections as a shield from living up to his legal obligations, there is much case law on homesteads. Indeed, ordinary business and commercial creditors ordinarily may penetrate property set aside as homestead.

Table 42: Homestead

State Code Section Maximum Value Of Property Maximum Acreage (Urban) Maximum Acreage (Rural)
ALABAMA §6-10-2; Const. Art. X, §205 Const.: $2,000; Stat.: $5,000 Const.: Lot Stat.: Lot or track Const.: 80 acres; Stat.: 160 acres
ALASKA 09.38.010 $54,000    
ARIZONA 33-1101 $100,000    
ARKANSAS 16-66-210; Const. Art. IX, §4, §5 $2,500. All homesteads less than $1,000 assessed valuation are exempt from all state taxes referred to in art. XVI, §18 of Ark. Constitution. If homestead's value exceeds $1,000, exemption shall apply to first $1,000 of valuation (CONST. amend. XXII §1). 1 acre but not less than ¼ acre Cannot exceed 160 acres, will not be reduced to less than 80 acres.
CALIFORNIA Civ. Proc. §704.710, et seq. For money judgments $150,000 if either spouse is over 65 or disabled and unable to engage in substantial employment; $150,000 if person is 55 or older with gross income of not more than $15,000 or if married not more than $20,000 and sale is involuntary; $75,000 if debtor or spouse resides in house with at least one member of the family with no interest in the homestead; $50,000 for all others    
COLORADO 38-41-201 $45,000 No limits to acreage No limits to acreage
CONNECTICUT 12-81(21) $10,000 if disabled veteran; only $5,000 exemption if loss the use of one arm or one leg;
$3,000 maximum income if unmarried and over 65;
$5,000 maximum income if married and over 65;
$6,000 maximum income for all others--combined adjusted gross income and tax exempt interest
DELAWARE Tit. 10 §4902 (personal property); Tit. 22 §1002 $75 trade, business in New Castle, Sussex County;
$50 trade, business in Kent County; homestead exemption for persons 65 and older to be determined by local ordinance
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA 15-501 (personal property) $2,575 automobile interest, household items up to $8,625, family pictures not in excess of $400    
FLORIDA §196.031; Const. Art. X, §4 $10,000 if person is over 65;
$9,500 if totally disabled and is a permanent resident for 5 consecutive years prior to claim;
$25,000 for taxes levied by governing bodies of school districts; $5,000 for all others
½ acre 160 acres
GEORGIA 44-13-1 $5,000    

Table 42: Homestead—Continued

State Code Section Maximum Value Of Property Maximum Acreage (Urban) Maximum Acreage (Rural)
HAWAII 651-92 $30,000 if head of family or 65 years old; $20,000 for all others    
IDAHO 55-1001, 1003 Lesser of $50,000 or total net value of lands, mobile home, or improvements. Net value means market value minus all liens and encumbrances.    
ILLINOIS 735 ILCS 5/12-901 $7,500, if 2 or more own property, value of each proportional exemption can't exceed a total of $15,000    
INDIANA 34-55-10-2 $7,500 for residential;
$4,000 for other real estate or tangible personal property;
$100 for intangible personal property; total value of property may not exceed $10,000
IOWA 561.1, et seq. $500 ½ acre 40 acres
KANSAS 60-2301, 2304 $1,000 in ornaments, $20,000 in transportation, $7,500 in trade tools 1 acre 160 acres
KENTUCKY 427.010, .080 $5,000 plus $3,000 in any personal property    
LOUISIANA Const. Art. VII, §20 $7,500 160 acres 160 acres
MAINE Tit. 14 §4422 Aggregate interest not to exceed $35,000 (or $70,000 if have minor dependents) including exemptions for car, clothing, furniture, jewelry, and tools of the trade. $70,000 if debtor or dependent is either 60 or older, disabled, or unable to engage in gainful employment    
MARYLAND Cts. & Jud. Proc. §11-504 $3,000 plus an additional $2,500 in a Title 11 bankruptcy in value, in real property, or personal property    
MASSACHUSETTS Ch. 188 §1, 1A $300,000    
MICHIGAN 600.6023 $3,500 realty, $1,000 trade tools Lot 40 acres
MINNESOTA 510.01, et seq. $200,000, or if primarily agricultural, $500,000 ½ acre 160 acres
MISSISSIPPI 85-3-21 $75,000 160 acres 160 acres
MISSOURI 513.475 $15,000    
MONTANA 70-32-101, 104 $100,000    
NEBRASKA 77-3502 (taxation); 40-101 (judgments) $12,500 1 acre; 2 lots 160 acres
NEVADA 115.010 $200,000    
NEW HAMPSHIRE 480: 1 $50,000    

Table 42: Homestead—Continued

State Code Section Maximum Value Of Property Maximum Acreage (Urban) Maximum Acreage (Rural)
NEW JERSEY 54: 4-8.57, et seq.; 2A: 17-19 personal property $1,000 personal property; Homeowner, $150 min. rebate if income is less than $70,000; min. is $100 if income is between $70,000 and $100,000
Renter, $65 min. rebate if income is less than $70,000; min. is $35 if income is between $70,000 and $100,000
NEW MEXICO 42-10-1, 9, 10 $30,000 or in lieu thereof, $2,000 in any property; $500 for personal property    
NEW YORK Civ. Prac. L. & R. §5206 $10,000    
NORTH CAROLINA Const. Art. X, §2 $1,000    
NORTH DAKOTA 47-18-01 $80,000    
OHIO 2329.66 $5,000    
OKLAHOMA Tit. 31 §2   1 acre 160 acres
OREGON 23.240, 23.250 $25,000 or $33,000 if more than one debtor is subject to liability 1 block 160 acres
PENNSYLVANIA Tit. 42 §8123; Tit. 72 §4751-3 $300 monetary exemption from judgment only; for senior citizens, a formula based on a sliding scale of income up to $15,000    
RHODE ISLAND 9-26-4, 4.1 $1,200 for tools, $8,600 for furniture, $300 for books, $10,000 for motor vehicles; $150,000 in real property    
SOUTH CAROLINA 15-41-30 $5,000 up to a maximum of $10,000 if there are multiple exemptions on same living unit; various kinds of personal property    
SOUTH DAKOTA 43-31-4   1 acre; mineral lands: 1 acre 160 acres; mineral lands: 40 acres placer claim; 5 acres lode mining
TENNESSEE 26-2-301 $5,000 or $7,500 if more than one debtor is subject to liability    
TEXAS Const. Art. XVI, §51   10 acres 200 acres
UTAH 78-23-3 $5,000 if property is not primary personal residence, $20,000 if property is primary personal residence    
VERMONT Tit. 27 §101 $75,000    
VIRGINIA 34-4 $5,000 plus if support dependent, then $500 for each dependent    
WASHINGTON 6.13.010, 030 Choice of $40,000 in real property or $15,000 in personal property    
WEST VIRGINIA §38-9-1; Const. Art. VI, §48 $5,000 in real property and $1,000 in personal property    

Table 42: Homestead—Continued

State Code Section Maximum Value Of Property Maximum Acreage (Urban) Maximum Acreage (Rural)
WISCONSIN 815.20; 990.01 (14) $40,000 Not less than ¼ acre or more than 40 acres Same as urban
WYOMING 1-20-101 $10,000    

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