A homestead is the house or mobile home that a person lives in and land on which it sits. The property must be a person’s primary residence for it to be eligible for a homestead declaration. The term homestead also includes any improvements to the land, such as a fence. By signing a legal document known as a homestead declaration, homeowners can protect at least part of the value of a home against most creditors’ claims.
A homestead declaration does not, however, prevent all claims against a piece of property. A person who performs repairs or other work on a home or who supplies materials for such work is allowed by law to place a lien against the home if payment is not received for services rendered or supplies provided. A homestead declaration provides no protection in such cases. A financial institution holding a mortgage on the property also has a lien against the property for any unpaid balance on the house. A homestead declaration provides no protection for failure to pay the mortgage. The declaration also will not provide protection in case of bankruptcy unless it was filed before bankruptcy was declared.
After the homestead exemption declaration form is completed, signed and notarized, it should be recorded in the clerk and recorder’s office in the county in which the home or mobile home is located. **