A homestead deed is an exemption that protects some or all of the equity in a homeowner’s primary residence from judgments or liens pursued by the homeowner’s unsecured creditors.
A homestead deed may also be referred to as a “homestead exemption” or simply as “homestead protection.”
Homestead deeds are issued by the state. They are not issued automatically. To receive homestead protection, homeowners have to file a designation of homestead with the state. Contact your state’s Registry of Deeds department to request a designation of homestead application. These applications are generally simple, one-page forms that must be completed, notarized and filed, along with the required filing fee, at the state’s Registry of Deeds department.
Homestead laws vary from state to state. For example, the amount of home equity protected by the homestead deed and the limitations of the homestead protection are specific to each state. In Massachusetts, for instance, a homestead exemption currently protects up to $500,000 of a property’s value, while in Maine the exemption only covers up to $7,000. Pennsylvania doesn’t even offer a homestead exemption.