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The dwelling house and its adjoining land where a family resides. Technically, and pursuant to the modern homestead exemption laws, an artificial estate in land, created to protect the possession and enjoyment of the owner against the claims of creditors by preventing the sale of the property for payment of the owner's debts so long as the land is occupied as a home.

Laws exempting the homestead from liability for debts of the owner are strictly of U.S. origin. Under the English Common Law, a homestead right, a personal right to the peaceful, beneficial, and uninterrupted use of the home property free from the claims of creditors, did not exist. Homestead rights exist only through the constitutional and statutory provisions that create them. Nearly every state has enacted such provisions. The earliest ones were enacted in 1839 in the Republic of Texas.

Homestead exemption statutes have been passed to achieve the public policy objective of providing lodgings where the family can peacefully reside irrespective of financial adversities. These laws are predicated on the theory that preservation of the homestead is of greater significance than the payment of debts.

Property tax exemptions, for all or part of the tax, are also available in some states for homesteaded property. Statutory requirements prescribe what must be done to establish a homestead.

A probate homestead is one that the court sets apart out of the estate property for the use of a surviving spouse and the minor children or out of the real estate belonging to the deceased.

A homestead corporation is an enterprise organized for the purpose of acquiring lands in large tracts; paying off encumbrances, charges attached to and binding real property; improving and subdividing tracts into homestead lots or parcels; and distributing them among the shareholders and for the accumulation of a fund for such purposes.


1) n. the house and lot of a homeowner which the head of the household (usually either spouse) can declare in writing to be the principal dwelling of the family, record that declaration of homestead with the County Recorder or Recorder of Deeds and thereby exempt part of its value (based on state statutes) from judgment creditors. A similar exemption is available in bankruptcy without filing a declaration of homestead. 2) v. jargon for filing a declaration of homestead, as in "he homesteaded the property."


noun abode, acreage, acres, country house, domicile, dwelling, dwelling place, edifice, estate, farm, farm land, farmplace, farmstead, grounds, habitation, home, house, household, living quarters, lodging, lodging place, manor, messuage, place of residence, place of settlement, quarters, residence
Associated concepts: homestead laws
See also: abode, building, domicile, dwelling, habitation, home, house, household, land, property, structure


(US) a house and adjoining land designated by the owner as his fixed residence and exempt under the homestead laws from seizure and forced sale for debts.

HOMESTEAD. The place of the house or home place. Homestead farm does not necessarily include all the parcels of land owned by the grantor, though lying and occupied together. This depends upon the intention of the parties when the term is mentioned in a deed, and is to be gathered from the context. 7 N. H. Rep. 241; 15 John. R. 471. See Manor; Mansion.

References in periodicals archive ?
Since the homestead exemption protects the equity in a homestead, the greater the equity in the homestead, the greater the value that will be protected.
As such, we discussed the policy behind the exemption, the limits on its use, namely the types of residences which may qualify as homestead, the size of limitations of the real property on which the homestead is situated, and, finally, the manner in which residences must be owned in order to qualify for homestead.
Upon sale of the property where the estate has not elected the marital deduction for the homestead, the surviving spouse and lineal descendants can simply divide the sales proceeds according to their actuarial interests, without making taxable gifts.