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Florida Homestead Law & Homestead Exemption

Florida Homestead Law

If you are considering moving to Florida, or you are new to Florida, you will hear about something that you are likely unfamiliar with: Florida Homestead. The Florida Homestead law makes purchasing a primary residence exceptionally attractive as it protects a Florida resident’s primary home from a judgment creditor. This means that, should you have a recorded judgment against you, that judgment cannot attach to or become a lien on your homestead. Simply put, a creditor cannot take your house away if you owe money on a judgment.

This homestead protection against a judgment is one of the strongest asset protection tools known in the United States. It is a Florida constitutional law that protects a debtor’s value in his or her primary residence, which frequently leads to judgment debtors relocating to Florida in order to protect their money from collection by a judgment creditor.

What is defined as being included in the Florida homestead protection for judgment creditor purposes?

The Florida Homestead Law refers not only to a single-family home as being protected from judgment creditors but also condominiums, mobile homes, and manufactured homes.

The protection of the Florida Homestead Law has a limitation regarding the lot size of your principal place of residence in Florida. Specifically, homestead protection includes residences within a municipality up to one-half acre and residences outside of a municipality up to a contiguous 160 acres. Contiguous property up to 160 acres is also included in the homestead even if the contiguous property has separate legal descriptions and tax numbers. While there is no restriction on the square footage of the primary physical residence, it is important to note that the protection is prorated if the lot exceeds the size limitations.

What are the exceptions to the Florida Homestead Law?

Exceptions to the Florida Homestead Law include the following:

  • Mechanics liens on the property to build, improve, or repair your homestead
  • Liens recorded prior to acquiring your homestead due to special assessments or homeowner association dues
  • State and property taxes and IRS tax liens
  • Liens given to purchase the property such as a mortgage or home equity loan
  • Property acquired through fraud or a crime

How do I claim my Homestead Protection?

For asset protection, your exemption applies when you occupy your residence with the intent to make your home your permanent residence. For homestead tax exemptions, you will have to apply for the exemption in order to claim the tax exemption.

Does the Florida Homestead protection extend to my heirs?   

A creditor of a decedent does not have any additional remedies against the debtor’s homestead after the debtor’s death. Thus, the homestead protection continues. If the heirs sell the property, the sale proceeds will pass to the heirs and trust beneficiaries.

Who does not qualify for homestead?

Any natural person can apply for the Florida homestead exemption as long as the person is  a permanent Florida resident, and the homestead property is his/her primary place of residence. A natural person does not include corporations, limited liability companies, irrevocable trusts, or partnerships and as such cannot qualify for homestead.

Florida Homestead Law is not the same as the Florida Homestead Tax Exemption.

What is the Florida Homestead Property Tax Exemption?

Residential property owners are eligible for exemptions that can reduce their property taxes. The Florida Homestead Tax exemption is an example of how Florida homeowners save money on their property taxes each year.

How is one eligible for the Florida Homestead Tax Exemption?

In order to be eligible for this exemption, you must own real property, making it either your permanent residence or the permanent residence of you dependent. If you do so, you may be eligible to receive a homestead exemption of up to $50,000.00; $25,000 of which applies to all property taxes, including school district taxes, and the additional exemption up to $25,000 applies to the assessed value between $50,000 and $75,000 and only to non-school taxes.

The application for filing for homestead can be found here. You must have specific proof that demonstrates that Florida is your primary residence. Evidence, including but not limited to, a Florida driver’s license, utility bills, address on your last IRS return, evidence of giving up your former driver license from another state, bank statement and checking account mailing address, and a Florida voter registration number. Click here for other information regarding the Property Tax Exemption for Homestead Property.

Should you have any questions or are planning to make Florida your primary residence and would like to speak with one of our professionals, feel free to contact us at  954-384-6114. We are here to assist you!