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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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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."

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


(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.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

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.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
If a farmer or homesteader has dairy stock and has excess milk available, it can be given to market pigs.
Hare, who announced his retirement plans last year, joined Homesteaders in 1977.
In the 1990's, Homesteaders was designated a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) by the U.S.
government would open up to settlement through a lottery system in which potential homesteaders' names were pulled from a jar to determine his or her allotted quarter-section, if any.
Having worked regularly as a "sweat equity" volunteer with 35 homesteaders, von Hassell's ethnographic analysis examines the experiences of 17 of them.
On a scroll for the next group of Homesteaders, Rashid wrote, "Make sure you do all of your chores, especially cleaning the latrine.
Writing shortly after the holocaust of the Civil War, America's first environmentalist, George Marsh, declared that "the earth was not, in its natural condition, completely adapted to the use of man." John Muir, the nation's first preservationist, lambasted homesteaders as "pious destroyers [who] waged interminable forest wars."
As I pulled a jar of canned tomatoes from the pantry, I realized how far we'd come as urban homesteaders. When we started our journey, we didn't have equipment, land or know-how, but we found motivation in the stories of homesteaders featured in your magazine, and we took simple steps to use less and produce more.
Many homesteaders supplement their food bill and income by running a trapline.
So he convinced a clerk to open the General Land Office shortly after midnight and file his claim, making Freeman one of the first homesteaders in U.S.