Homestead Exemptions Across the States
A homestead is the primary residence owned and lived in by a person or a family. A homestead exemption protects at least part of the value of the homestead from creditors. Texas and a few other states, as the second column in the table below shows, provide unlimited protection up to the full value of a home. In Texas, no creditors except a mortgage holder, a taxing authority, or the holder of a note for a home improvement loan may force the sale of a family home to satisfy nonpayment of debt. Most states set a maximum level of homestead protection, but some, like Pennsylvania, provide no state homestead protection at all.
Whether states protect homesteads or not, new federal bankruptcy provisions passed in 2005 cap the exemption at $125,000 for residences bought within three years and four months of a bankruptcy filing. Because Texas law permitted Enron executives charged with the company's collapse to protect multi-million dollar mansions, federal law now also mandates the $125,000 cap for debtors convicted of securities law violations. Moreover, if homeowners fraudulently convert nonexempt assets to buy a home, the exemption is reduced by the amount of fraud.
|Florida||Unlimited||One-half acre in city or up to 160 acres in rural area.|
|Iowa||Unlimited||One-half acre in city or up to forty acres elsewhere.|
|Kansas||Unlimited||One city acre or up to 160 acres elsewhere.|
|South Dakota||Unlimited||One city acre or up to 160 acres elsewhere.|
|Texas||Unlimited||Ten acres anywhere; home equity loans legalized in 2003 and subject to foreclosure.|
|Minnesota||$200,000||$500,000 if chiefly agricultural use; one-half city acre or up to 160 acres elsewhere.|
|Montana||$100,000||Farmland up to 320 acres or one-quarter acre in city or one acre elsewhere.|
|Connecticut||$75,000||Up to $125,000 for judgments due to hospital expenses.|
|California||$50,000||Limit is $50,000 for a single person, $75,000 for a couple, $125,000 if 65 or older, or physically or mentally disabled, or $150,000 if 55 or older, and single earning under $15,000, or married and earning under $20,000.|
|Colorado||$45,000||For occupied residence.|
|Maine||$35,000||Doubles for couples; $70,000 for 60 and over or disabled.|
|New Mexico||$30,000||Doubles for couples.|
|Louisiana||$25,000||Five city acres or up to 200 acres elsewhere; full value exempt for one year due to medical expenses from terminal illness.|
|Oregon||$25,000||$33,000 for couples; one city block or up to 160 acres elsewhere.|
|Hawaii||$20,000||Up to $30,000 for head of household or 65 and over; exempts up to one acre.|
|Utah||$20,000||Doubles for couples.|
|Nebraska||$12,500||Two city lots or up to 160 acres elsewhere.|
|Georgia||$10,000||Doubles for couples.|
|Indiana||$7,500||Maximum of $10,000 including personal property.|
|Alabama||$5,000||Up to 160 acres; amount doubles for couples.|
|Delaware||$5,000||Doubles for couples.|
|South Carolina||$5,000||Doubles for couples.|
|Tennessee||$5,000||$7500 for couples.|
|Virginia||$5,000||An additional $500 per dependent.|
|Michigan||$3,500||One city lot or up to 40 acres elsewhere.|
|Arkansas||$2,500||Up to 160 acres but may not be reduced to less than 80 acres no matter the value.|
|New Jersey||No exemption|
Source: State-by-state asset protection resources are available at http://assetprotectionbook.com/homestead_exemptions.htm, accessed March 31, 2005. State statutes were checked individually and updated as necessary through March 31, 2005. Visit the American Bankruptcy Institute at http://abiworld.net for further information about bankruptcy and the law in the U.S. For information on recent changes see especially the material at http://abiworld.net/bankbill/changes.html.
accessed April 14, 2005.