On March 16, 2011, the much awaited revision of Massachusetts General Laws chapter 188 (The Homestead Law) takes effect. Perhaps the most noteworthy element of this new law is that it creates an automatic homestead exemption of $125,000 for every homeowner without the need to file any document. The law also preserves the current $500,000 exemption, but that must be specifically declared by filing a written declaration of homestead at the registry of deeds. The law also addresses many ambiguities in the old law including who may file (anyone with an ownership interest), the effect of refinancing (there is no need to record a new homestead), whether a homestead may be declared on property held in trust (yes, it can), and many other things.
It’s also important to understand that if you already have a homestead recorded, you don’t need to do anything to comply with this new law: your existing homestead is “grandfathered-in.”
The full text of the new statute and new forms for the homestead for individuals and for properties held in trust are now available on the registry of deeds website.