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Tampa Estate Planning Attorney > Blog > Estate Planning > Homestead Real Estate Property And Your Florida Estate Plan

Homestead Real Estate Property And Your Florida Estate Plan


It is easy to lose sight of this in Florida, the land of McMansions and ostentatious cribs that one can only afford as a result of a successful reality television career or a hastily approved Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, but when it comes to homeownership, less is more.  At some point in your estate planning journey, the thought might have crossed your mind that you can’t take an oversized, overpriced house with you when you die, but you also can’t take a small, practical one with you, so you might as well live large.  While this is true from a philosophical perspective, a house that is just right for you to live in offers you more protection from creditor claims than a showy one, which is an oversized target for anyone looking for evidence that you can afford to repay debts that you are not repaying.  “Homestead property” is a meaningful concept in many aspects of Florida law, not least among them estate law.  To find out more about how owning a homestead property affects your estate plan, contact a Tampa estate planning lawyer.

How to Tell If Your House Is a Homestead Real Estate Property

Not everyone who owns a house owns a homestead property, but the maximum number of homestead properties one person can own at one time is one.  A homestead real estate property is a piece of land where your primary residence is located.  If it is within a municipality, the land on which it is built can be no bigger than one half of an acre.  If it is in an unincorporated or rural area, the land on which the house is built cannot exceed 160 contiguous acres.

Advantages of a Homestead Property

Importantly, homestead real estate properties are exempt from creditor claims.  For example, they count as exempt assets in chapter 7 bankruptcy cases.  Furthermore, Florida’s Constitution protects homestead properties from being subject to creditor claims during the owner’s life and even after the owner dies.  This means that the probate court cannot order the personal representative of your estate to sell your homestead property in order to satisfy debts owed by your estate.  Technically, a homestead property is not even a probate asset, although the heirs typically do not receive it until the estate settles.

What Should You Do If Your House Is Not a Homestead Property?

If your house does not qualify as a homestead property because the lot is too large or because you own more than one house, you should take action to protect it from creditor claims in probate court.  This can mean resolving your debts so that creditors cannot bring a valid claim that would jeopardize your house.  It is also possible to place your non-homestead house in a trust, which would make it a non-probate asset.

Contact David Toback About Real Estate and Your Estate Plan

A Central Florida estate planning lawyer can help you protect your real estate property from creditor claims during probate.  Contact David Toback in Tampa, Florida to set up a consultation.



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