How to Homestead Your Home in California

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California is one of 17 states that provide standard homestead protection to all homeowners
California is one of 17 states that provide standard homestead protection to all homeowners (Image: farmhouse in the countryside - romantic sundown image by Jaroslav Machacek from Fotolia.com)

A homestead provides homeowners protection against involuntary money judgments against their house. The home must be the homeowner's primary residence to qualify for a homestead. Money judgments made against a homeowner in court can result in the selling of home equity or the selling of a homeowner's home altogether. The state of California automatically grants homeowners a minimum homestead of $50,000. The homestead is raised to $75,000 if one family member who owns no interest in the house resides in the home. In certain cases, homeowners aged 55 or older are eligible for an automatic homestead of $150,000. Declarations of homestead are used to increase the legal protection a homeowner has.

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Declaration of Homestead

Obtain a Declaration of Homestead for California form from your local county recorder's website. You can also walk into your local county recorder office in person to get the form.

Fill out the Declaration of Homestead with the amount of interest you own on your home, your address and any other information needed before you sign the document. Include any people living within your home within your family to receive the best homestead protection.

Take the form to a Notary Public or any other person qualified to notarize legal documents, and sign it in her presence.

File the completed Declaration of Homestead with the County Recorder in your county.

Tips & Warnings

  • File a Declaration before a claim is filed against your home.
  • A Declaration of Homestead can be filed at any time up until the sale of your home or the collection of any equity in your home.
  • You do not need to file a Declaration of Homestead to enjoy homestead protections; it simply helps in the enforcement of homesteads.
  • A fee no greater than $25 should be paid for all homestead services. The fee should never be paid until the Declaration of Homestead has been officially approved.

References

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