To preserve and encourage the heritage of family land, Tennessee has enacted a homestead exemption act. Under the act, state residents who meet the state minimum residency requirements are allowed to remain and keep their property during tough economic hardships. As long as the home is occupied by the owner's immediate family, creditors cannot seize the home for nonpayment of debts.
Homestead laws are in place to protect individual property owners from creditors. Homeowners are examples of individual property owners. Under the homestead law, an individual is able to register a portion of real property for a homestead exemption. The idea of the homestead exemption is to protect small family property. Property such as farms, homes or any other assets are included in the homestead exemption.
Tennessee Exemption Amount
Tennessee allows a basic $5,000 for homestead exemption of real property. The individual filing for homestead exemption does not have to be the head of the family. The individual filing, the individual's spouse or the individual's child must occupy the home. The home must be the primary place of residence.
Those who jointly own and use the residence as the primary place of residence may claim a homestead exemption of $7,500. The amount divides among the joint owners if both owners in the same proceeding claim the homestead exemptions.
To accommodate people 62 and older, Tennessee raised the homestead exemption limit. As of 2004, someone 62 or older may claim up to $12,000 if single and $20,000 if married. Married couples 62 and older may claim up to $25,000. Beginning in 2007 an individual with at least one minor child dependent may claim up to $25,000.
A spouse or living child of a deceased owner may claim a homestead exemption. Filers may claim a life estate or a 2- to 15-year lease. In cases where only one spouse is filing bankruptcy and the home is the spouse's primary residence, the entire home is exempt against creditors. Chapter 7 bankruptcy does not liquidate homes that claim the homestead exemption. Because Tennessee has a list of bankruptcy exemption, state residents do not use the federal list.