Massachusetts Homesteads – Know Your Seller’s Marital Status

As of March 16th, Massachusetts has a new Homestead law and if you are a seller’s broker or lawyer, you need to know a little bit more about your client.  Since Homestead on a person’s residence is now automatic for $125,000 of protection, all deeds will now need to declare the seller’s marital status.  This is because of the fact that even a non-owner spouse has a homestead interest in the property.  If there is a non-owner spouse, he or she will now be required to attend the closing to sign a deed or a release of his or her homestead rights.  If there is no spouse of the seller, the seller will now need to sign an affidavit certifying that fact.  It can get trickier if you have married siblings who own property together.  The non-owner spouses of the siblings will now need to be involved.  Of course, homestead only applies to the primary residence of an owner but since homestead is now automatic, you will find that there will be certifications required for any residential property sales by all owners and their spouses. 

These changes apply to refinances as well.  Non-owner spouses will now need to go the the refi closing in order to sign off on their homestead rights as to the bank.  Finally, to make it even more interesting, closing attorneys are now required to offer borrowers and buyers the option of signing a “Homestead Election” form which would afford them additional protection up to $500,000.

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