The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

Massachusetts Homestead Protection Law (effective March 16, 2011)

Date: 
03/21/2011
Author: 
NCLC and MLRI

On March 16, 2011, a new Massachusetts Homestead law went into effect.  It completely revised and modernized Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 188, sections 1-10.  Here are some of the important highlights:

  • The Homestead law allows Massachusetts homeowners who reside in the home to protect their principal residence from certain creditors, up to a certain amount
  • Existing homesteads recorded prior to March 16, 2011 remain valid
  • All homesteads are subject to valid mortgages
  • Homeowners get an automatic $125,000 homestead; no recordation of a homestead declaration is needed for this protection
  • Homeowners can protect up to $500,000 in equity in their homes by recording a homestead declaration; all owners must sign to gain full protection
  • All owners must occupy or intend to occupy the home as principal residence
  • All owners who are elderly or disabled should record a homestead under section 2 of the new law to gain maximum protection; they must attach a disability award letter or a Massachusetts physician’s letter to their homestead declaration
  • Both spouses can record a homestead under the new law
  • Property held in a trust can be homesteaded
  • Mobile homes and manufactured housing can be homesteaded
  • Every homeowner who has refinanced his/her mortgage in the last several years should consider recording a new homestead declaration since many refinancing mortgages contained a waiver of homestead rights
  • Homeowners may benefit from recording a new homestead early since homesteads recorded under the new law are senior to liens recorded after the homestead is recorded
  • The children and surviving spouse of a person who has recorded a new homestead gain special protections

 Additional resources: