Are There Exceptions to the Massachusetts Homestead Protection Act?

Yes. The Massachusetts Homestead Act protects a person’s home from creditors in certain situations, but there are six exceptions listed in M.G.L. ch. 188 §3. These exceptions include:

  1. If the home is being sold to pay for federal, state, or local taxes, assessments, claims, or liens.
  2. If there is a lien on the home that was recorded before the homestead estate was created.
  3. If there is a mortgage on the home as provided in sections 8 and 9.
  4. If a court orders a spouse, former spouse, or parent to pay a certain amount of money for the support of a spouse, former spouse, or minor children.
  5. If buildings on land that is not owned by the owner of the homestead estate are attached, levied upon, or sold for the ground rent of the lot on which they are situated.
  6. If a court issues an execution to enforce its judgment based on fraud, duress, undue influence, or lack of capacity.

It is crucial to be aware of the exceptions listed in M.G.L. ch. 188 §3 because they limit the protection offered by the Massachusetts Homestead Act. While the Act provides limited protection to a homeowner’s primary residence from creditors seeking collection of debts, these exceptions carve out specific situations where there is no protection at all. For instance, if there is a mortgage on the home or a court order to pay for child support, the property may not be protected under the Homestead Act. The exception that allows the sale of a homestead property to pay for federal, state, or local taxes is significant because it means that the IRS or the Massachusetts Department of Revenue can impose liens and levy (force the sale of the property) to cover outstanding tax liabilities. Therefore, it is essential to understand these exceptions to avoid any potential legal issues and ensure that your property is adequately protected.