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A look inside Florida’s “homestead” definitions

When Florida became a state back in 1845, it was well before electricity and air conditioning were in homes. In an effort to try to get folks to pull up stakes and move to Florida, leaders devised a way to provide settlers protections they would not be likely to get elsewhere.

Homestead in Florida was granted to provide the adventurous with incentives to move here, as well as to prevent creditors from forcing the sale of a property and to provide a surviving spouse and family a place to call home.

The Florida Homestead Act of 1862 was bolstered in 1934 when Section 7 was bolted on to Article X of the state constitution.

The three laws of “homestead” can be simply in basic form like so:

  • Exemption from a forced sale: so even if a court grants a money judgment against a homeowner, the creditor in the case won’t be able to get your home as payment (though there are a few rare exceptions to this rule).
  • Restrictions on transfer: this restriction prevents an owner from transferring the homestead property without a waiver from a spouse. Also, without a waiver, the property goes to the owner’s surviving spouse after death.
  • Property tax exemption: the constitutional property tax exemption says that the first $25,000 assessed value of a homestead is exempt from property taxes (another $25,000 reduction is available when a home is worth more than $50,000).

Homestead law is not intuitive or simple, so if you have questions, contact an experienced Brevard County attorney who understands both real estate law and estate planning.

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