Florida’s homestead protections are renown throughout the country for the great homestead protection laws that protect state residents. These laws are found in Florida’s Constitution and offer key protection in three different ways. The state constitution offers protection from creditors, tax exemptions, and transfer restrictions to protect spouses.
Homestead Protection From Creditors
Article X, Section 4 offers Florida exempts the homestead property from creditors. This means that a creditor cannot force the sale of a homestead to satisfy a judgment. Florida courts have graciously expanded the meaning of homestead to include a house, condominium, a manufactured home, and mobile homes. The Florida Constitution defines homestead as one’s principal place of residence including up to one-half acre within a municipality and up to 160 contiguous acres outside a municipality.
To qualify for creditor protection, a debtor must be a permanent Florida resident and the homestead property must be the primary place of residence. Property purchased as a future residence is not protected from creditors until it is physically occupied as a primary place or residence.
Homestead Tax Exemptions
The Florida Homestead tax exemption reduces the taxable value of the real property up to $25,000 and $50,000 for a married couple. This is an ad valorem tax exemption for Florida residents that own and reside in the property as the primary residence. The homestead exemption is only available for the individual’s primary home, so the exemption does not apply to businesses, rental property, or second homes. A tax exemption provides considerable savings on a Florida resident’s property tax bill.
One of the best benefits of a Florida homestead is the protection it offers to a spouse and the decedent’s minor children. The Florida Constitution provides that the owner may not devise a homestead through a sale, transfer, or conveyance if a spouse or a minor child survives this person.
The same principles apply following the death of the decedent. An owner may not devise or leave their homestead by will, trust, or otherwise if survived by a spouse or minor child except to the surviving spouse and minor child. This restriction comes from Florida Statute 732.4015.
This article only provides a broad overview of the homestead protection in Florida. If you have a homestead issue, there are many technical details involved with homestead laws that must be applied by an estate planning attorney. For more information on how a homestead protection can work for your estate plan contact the estate planning attorneys at The Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC today.