A homestead generally refers to the primary residence owned and occupied by a person or family. So, a homestead exemption is a legal provision designed to protect the value in a principal dwelling place. Thus, homestead exemptions can provide asset protection from creditors for at least some of the value in the homestead. Typically, no creditors with the exception of a mortgage holder, taxing agency or mechanic’s lien (liens placed by those who provided home improvement services, for example) may seize more of the equity than the homestead laws allow.
A homestead exemption may also refer to statutes in some jurisdictions that offer property tax reductions for a primary residence. For example, as of this writing, Article VII, Section 6 of the Florida Constitution reduces the value of a home for assessment of property taxes by $50,000. It may also may refer to the protection provisions for spouses and children.
In Florida, a married person must have consent of both spouses in order to sell a primary residence even of the property was paid for and is in the name of only one spouse. Upon death the surviving spouse can enjoy a life estate and use the home until passing. Alternatively, a widow may elect to timely file to take a 50% interest in the home and the remaining 50% is held in a life estate for the benefit of the decedent’s children. In particular, this article focuses on the amount of equity that one can protect from judgment creditors in each jurisdiction.
State, federal and territorial homestead exemption statutes vary. Some states, such as Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas have provisions, if followed properly, allowing 100% of the equity to be protected. Other states, such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania do not offer any homestead protection. Whereas, the degree of protection in New York varies by county. What is more, with the 2005 federal bankruptcy code revision, residences purchased within 40 months (three years and four months) of a bankruptcy filing receive a maximum exemption of $125,000.
In summary, there is great diversity in homestead protection state-by-state:
There are some notable variations among some US territories. American Samoa, for example, allows protection only for those of Samoan descent. Northern Mariana Islands allows one to keep the amount of land needed to support oneself. Puerto Rico requires a note to be certified by a notary public and filed with the Land Registrar.
Whether or not you can protect your home can be a major consideration when contemplating a bankruptcy filing. The majority of states and territories do allow some protection under their homestead exemption statutes. This exemption is a factor in both Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy as well as Chapter 13 where a payment plan can be arranged. So by knowing the rules, you may be able to protect some, most or all of your personal residence, and decrease the repayment amount in a Ch. 13 filing.
Please keep in mind that whereas we make every effort to keep the information up to date and accurate, that there are well over 50 states, districts and territories listed below and changes in regional and federal laws and rulings may occur before we have a chance to update the list. Additionally, some of the data on which we relied may, itself, be inaccurate or we may have misinterpreted our findings.
So, this may be used as a helpful reference, but you are responsible for confirming the accuracy of this information before relying upon it. In addition, there may be exceptions for child support, taxes, and/or acquiring real property with criminal proceeds. This exemption is one small part of an overall plan to protect assets from lawsuits. We encourage anyone who notices that an update needs to be made to fill out the contact form on this page and let us know.
Below you will find the amount of exemption allowed in your state or territory, the statutes applicable to the jurisdiction and some noteworthy points about the state or territory’s statutes and how they are interpreted. You will also see whether or not a particular state allows a doubling, or other increase, of the exemption for married couples. Where there is not an increase allowed the column is left blank. Again, laws change and we make no guarantees. So double check with a licensed attorney who specializes in this arena before relying on it.
On a related note, if you are married, you may want to know if you live in a tenancy by the entirety state. Do you live in a community property state where the debts of one spouse can jeopardize the assets of another? What about IRA creditor exemptions? Wage garnishment exemptions? All of these factor can help you determine the types of assets you need to protect.
And another thing. This page was a lot of work to put together. You can view it, link to it, tell others about it. But please don’t copy it. This website has a federally registered copyright and we would much rather meet you on the golf course than in the courtroom. See items that need to be updated? Let us know by completing the inquiry form on this page.
|State / Region||Homestead Exemption Amount||Married Couples / Joint Owners ||Homestead Exemption Statute and Notes|
|Alabama||$15,000||$30,000||Ala. Code § 6-10-2, 27-14-29. Real property or mobile home to $15,000; property cannot exceed 160 acres.|
|Alaska||$72,900||Alaska Stat. § 09.38.010. Principal residence up to $72,900 (joint owners may each claim a portion, but total can’t exceed $72,900)|
|Arizona||$150,000||Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 33-1101A. $150,000 for real property, an apartment, or mobile home you occupy to; sale proceeds exempt 18 months after sale or until new home purchased, whichever occurs first|
|Arkansas||Unlimited||Ark. Const. art. 4. For married person or head of family: unlimited exemption on real or personal property used as residence to 1/4 acre in city, town, or village, or 80 acres elsewhere; if property is between 1/4 to 1 acre in city, town, or village, or 80-160 acres elsewhere, additional limit is $2,500; homestead may not exceed 1 acre in city, town, or village, or 160 acres elsewhere. Not destroyed by death, divorce, or dependents’ emancipation|
|California||$75,000||$100,000||Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 704.730. Real or personal property you occupy including mobile home, boat, stock cooperative, community apartment, planned development, or condo to $75,000 if single & not disabled; $100,000 for families if no other member has a homestead (if only one spouse files, may exempt one-half of amount if home held as community property and all of amount if home held as tenants in common); $175,000 if 65 or older, or physically or mentally disabled; $175,000 if 55 or older, single, & gross annual income under $25,000 or married & gross annual income under $35,000 & creditors seek to force the sale of your home; forced sale proceeds received exempt for 6 months after; separated but married debtor may claim homestead in community property still occupied by other spouse.|
|Colorado||$75,000||$150,000||Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-41-201. Real property, mobile home, manufactured home, or house trailer you occupy to $75,000; $105,000 if owner, spouse, or dependent is disabled or age 60 or older; sale proceeds exempt 2 years after received|
|Connecticut||$75,000||$150,000||Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-352b(t). Owner occupied real property, co-op or mobile manufactured home, to $75,000; applies only to claims arising after 1993, but to $125,000 in the case of a money judgment arising out of services provided at a hospital. Husband or wife may double the exemption amount.|
|Delaware||$125,000||10 Del Code Ann. § 4914(c)(1). Equity in real property or equity in a manufactured home that is debtor’s principal residence|
|District of Columbia||Unlimited||D.C. Code § 15-501(a)(14) Any property used as a residence or co-op that debtor or debtor’s dependent uses as a residence|
|Florida||Unlimited||Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 222.01, 222.02, Fla. Const. Art. X, § 4. Real or personal property including mobile or modular home to unlimited value; cannot exceed half acre in municipality or 160 acres elsewhere; boats generally not protected; spouse or child of deceased owner may claim homestead exemption (husband & wife may double). Bankruptcy requires 40 months residency in homestead.|
|Georgia||$21,500||$43,000||Georgia Code Ann. § 44-13-100(a)(1) & (a)(6), 44-13-1. Real or personal property, including co-op, used as residence to $21,500 ($43,000 if married, and the property is solely owned by one spouse); up to $5,000 of unused portion of homestead may be applied to any property.|
|Hawaii||$20,000||Hawaii Rev. Stat. § 651-92(a). $30,000 for head of household or over 65.|
|Idaho||$100,000||Idaho Code § 50-1003. Real property or mobile home to $100,000; sale proceeds exempt for 6 months.|
|Illinois||$15,000||$30,000||I.L.C.S. §§ 5/12-901; 5/12-906. Real or personal property including a farm, lot, & buildings, condo, co-op, or mobile home to $15,000; sale proceeds exempt for 1 year|
|Indiana||$19,300||$38,600||Ind. Code Ann. § 34-55-10-2(b)(1). Real or personal property used as residence to $19,300. Property held as tenancy by the entirety may be exempt against debts incurred by only one spouse|
|Iowa||Unlimited||Iowa Code Ann. § 561.16. Unlimited for 40 acres rural, 1/2 acre urban, homestead retains its prior protection despite annexation.|
|Kansas||Unlimited||Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-2301. Unlimited for 160 acres rural or 1 acre urban.|
|Kentucky||$5,000||Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 427.060 Real or personal property used as residence.|
|Louisiana||$35,000||La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 20:1. La. Const. Art. 12:9. Property you occupy to $35,000 (if debt is result of catastrophic or terminal illness or injury, limit is full value of property as of 1 year before filing); cannot exceed 5 acres in city or town, 200 acres elsewhere|
|Maine||$47,500||14 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 4422(1). Real or personal property (including cooperative) used as residence to $47,500; if debtor has minor dependents in residence, to $95,000; if debtor over age 60 or physically or mentally disabled, $95,000 (joint debtors in this category may double); proceeds of sale exempt for six months.|
|Maryland||$22,975||Md. Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code § 11-504. Owner occupied residential property or condo or co-op to $22,975. Property held as tenancy by the entirety is exempt against debts owed by only one spouse|
|Massachusetts||$500,000||Mass. Gen. L. Ch. 188 §§ 1, 1A. $500,000 and $500,000 for each age 62+ or disabled person. Record a Declaration of Homestead with the county Registry of Deeds.|
|Michigan||$30,000||Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 600.5451(n). $30,000 / $45,000 if 65+ or disabled. ; property cannot exceed 1 lot in town, village, city, or 40 acres elsewhere; spouse or children of deceased owner may claim homestead exemption.|
|Minnesota||$390,000||Minn. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 510.02. $390,000 or, if the homestead is used primarily for agricultural purposes, $975,000; cannot exceed 1/2 acre in city, 160 acres elsewhere.|
|Mississippi||$75,000||Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-21. $75,000 for 160 acres; sale proceeds exempt. Mobile home (as personal property) to $30,000 (Mobile home does not qualify as homestead unless you own land on which it is located)|
|Missouri||$15,000||Mo. Ann. Stat. § 513.475. Mobile home to $5,000|
|Montana||$250,000||Mont. Code Ann. § 70-32-104. Real property or mobile home you occupy to $250,000; sale, condemnation, or insurance proceeds exempt for 18 months. Must record homestead declaration before filing for bankruptcy.|
|Nebraska||$60,000||Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 40-101 to -108. Limited to head of household; cannot exceed 2 lots in city or village, 160 acres elsewhere; sale proceeds exempt 6 months after sale.|
|Nevada||$550,000||Nev. Rev. Stat. § 21.090(1)(l). Real property or mobile home to $550,000.
Must record homestead declaration before filing for bankruptcy.
|New Hampshire||$100,000||N.H. Code Ann. § 480:1. Real property or manufactured housing (and the land it’s on if you own it).|
|New Jersey||None||Survivorship interest of a spouse in property held as tenancy by the entirety is exempt from creditors of a single spouse|
|New Mexico||$60,000||$120,000||N.M. Stat. Ann. § 42-10-9. Joint owners may double.|
|New York*||$82,775-$165,550||$165,500-$331,100||N.Y. Civ. Prac. L. and R. § 5206(a). *Real property including co-op, condo, or mobile home, to $165,550 for the counties of Kings, New York, Queens, Bronx, Richmond, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Westchester, and Putnam; $131,325 for the counties of Dutchess, Albany, Columbia, Orange, Saratoga, and Ulster; $82,775 for the remaining counties in the state. Husband and wife may double.|
|North Carolina||$35,000||$70,000||N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1C-1601(a)(1). Real or personal property, including co-op, used as residence to $35,000. ($60,000 if 65 or older and spouse is deceased); up to $5,000 of unused portion of homestead may be applied to any property.|
|North Dakota||$100,000||N.D. Cent. Code §§ 47-18-01, 28-22-02(7). Real property, house trailer, or mobile home.|
|Ohio||$136,925||Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2329.66(A)(1). Real or personal property used as residence.|
|Oklahoma||Unlimited||31 Okla. St. Ann. § 2. Unlimited for 160 acres rural, 1 acre urban. $5,000 limit if more than 25% of total sq. ft. area used for business purposes; okay to rent homestead as long as no other residence is acquired.|
|Oregon||$40,000||Or. Rev. Stat § 18.395. Real property, mobile home or houseboat you occupy or intend to occupy to $40,000 ($50,000 for joint owners); property cannot exceed 1 block in town or city or 160 acres elsewhere; sale proceeds exempt 1 year from sale, if you intend to purchase another home.|
|Pennsylvania||None||Property held as tenancy by the entirety may be exempt against debts owed by only one spouse.|
|Rhode Island||$500,000||R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-26-4.1. Land & buildings you occupy or intend to occupy as a principal residence|
|South Carolina||$58,255||$116,510||S.C. Code Ann. § 15-41-30(1). Real property, including co-op.|
|South Dakota||Unlimited||S.D. Cod. Laws § 43-45-3. Unlimited for 160 acres rural, 1 acre urban.
Real property to unlimited value or mobile home (larger than 240 sq. ft. at its base and registered in state at least 6 months before filing) to unlimited value; sale proceeds to $30,000 ($170,000 if over age 70 or widow or widower who hasn’t remarried) exempt for 1 year after sale
|Tennessee||$5,000||$7,500||Tenn. Code Ann. § 26-2-301. $7,500 unmarried / $12,500 unmarried 62+ / $20,000 married and one spouse 62+ / $25,000 married and both spouses 62+|
|Texas||Unlimited||Tex. Const. Art. XVI, §§ 50, 51; Tex. Prop. Code §§ 41.001 to 002. Unlimited for 100 acres rural (single) / 200 acres rural (family), 1 acre urban. sale proceeds exempt for 6 months after sale (renting okay if another home not acquired, Prop. 41.003). Must file homestead declaration, or court will file it for you for a fee. Due to Enron executives keeping multi-million dollar mansions, those convicted of securities violations are capped at $125,000.|
|Utah||$20,000||$40,000||Utah Code Ann. § 78-23-3. Real property, mobile home, or water rights to $30,000 if primary residence; $5,000 if not primary residence|
|Vermont||$125,000||$250,000||12 Vt. Stat. Ann. § 2740(19)(D). Real property or mobile home. May also claim rents, issues, profits, & out-buildings|
|Virginia||$5,000||$10,000||Va. Code Ann. § 34-4. Must file homestead declaration before filing for bankruptcy. $5,000 plus $500 per dependent; rents & profits; sale proceeds exempt to $5,000 (husband & wife may double, unused portion of homestead may be applied to any personal property); if 65 or older, exemption is $10,000|
|Washington||$125,000||Wash. Rev. Code § 6.13.030. Real property, manufactured home, or mobile home; unimproved property intended for residence to $15,000.|
|West Virginia||$25,000||$50,000||W. Va. Code § 38-10-4(a). Real or personal property used as residence; unused portion of homestead may be applied to any property.|
|Wisconsin||$75,000||$150,000||Wisc. Stat. § 815.20. Property you occupy or intend to occupy; sale proceeds exempt for 2 years if you intend to purchase another home.|
|Wyoming||$20,000||$40,000||Wy. Stat. Ann. § 1-20-101. Real property or house trailer you occupy.|
|Federal Bankruptcy||$125,000||11 U.S.C. § 522(p)(1). Real or personal property that the debtor or a dependent of the debtor uses as a residence or claims as a homestead, a cooperative, a burial plot.|
|American Samoa||Unlimited for Samoan and certain ethnic Pacific Islanders||A.S.C.A. § 43.1528(a). No real property of a Samoan may be subject to sale under a writ of a court to satisfy any judgment other than a judgment foreclosing a valid mortgage. “Samoan” includes American Samoans of at least one-half Samoan blood and persons born on other islands in the Pacific Ocean who are of at least one-half Polynesian, Melanesian or Micronesian blood and who reside in American Samoa. Court may appoint a receiver to gather produce lying and being upon the property belonging to a Samoan debtor. Does not prohibit judgment creditor from recovering the cash proceeds resulting from a voluntary sale of property by the judgment debtor.|
|Guam||$40,000||21 GCA Ch. 43 Art 1 § 43123. Available to head of a family or any person sixty-five (65) years of age or older up to $40,000, by any other person, of not $25,000. Homestead declaration must be recorded in the office of the Department of Land Management.|
|Northern Mariana Islands||Based on amount of land needed to support oneself||7 CMC § 4210(c) All interests in land, but any interest owned solely by a judgment debtor, in his or her own right, may be ordered sold or transferred. After the sale or transfer, the debtor will have sufficient land remaining to support himself or herself. No person not of Northern Marianas descent may acquire any interest in such land, by sale, transfer, or otherwise, except as otherwise provided by law.|
|Puerto Rico||Unlimited||PR Home Protection Act No. 195. “Ley del Derecho a la Protección del Hogar Principal y el Hogar Familiar.”  Requires filing a note that has been certified by a notary public with the Land Registrar that the property has been designated by the owner as “safe home,” i.e. “hogar seguro.”|
|US Virgin Islands||$30,000||5 V.I.C. § 478 (a). Family homestead or proceeds exempt. Must be the actual abode of and owned by such family or some members thereof. Not to exceed $30,000 value, nor exceed five acres rural or one-fourth acre in a town.|
| Where there is not an increase allowed for married couples or joint owners, the column is left blank and/or referred to in notes.|
|Note: Laws change at any time, for example, by new legislation, court decisions and other means. This information about asset protection and homestead exemptions by state and territory is believed to be accurate at the time of its writing by it is not guaranteed and should be validated by a knowledgeable attorney licensed to practice law in the applicable region. State laws often differ from federal laws. Just as real estate prices change, the value of and the laws relating to the homestead exemption change from time to time.|
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