What You Need To Know About The Homestead Law In Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Homestead Law is a very useful law that was put into place as a protection of homeowners’ property. The law may protect your home against the claims of creditors. The act applies to your home if: 

  • You live in the home or plan to live in it
  • You use the home or plan to use the home as your primary residence 

Things To Know About The Law

It does protect manufactured and mobile home

Homestead protection does not stop your home from being foreclosed on in the event that you don’t pay your mortgage

Declaration Of Homestead


You must declare that your property is a homestead property in the state of Massachusetts. This declaration will protect the equity value of your home from creditors. The equity of your home is what the “fair market value” of the home is. To calculate this value, find out what the value of your home is, then subtract all home equity loans, liens, and mortgages that you have against the house. The number that’s left is what the equity value of your home is.

When a Declaration Of Homestead is in place, you’re protected from creditors who would otherwise force you to use your equity so that you you can repay the debts that are owed. Without this protection, creditors can foreclose on your home. The only creditors that a Homestead does not protect you from are home loan companies, the IRS and legal child support obligations. 

When the loan for your home is in good standing and a Homestead is in place in Massachusetts, the following applies:


A creditor cannot auction your home if you, other owners of your home, any family members, or any family members who move into your home at a future date live there. This means that even in the event of your death, these people will all be protected from creditors taking value from the property while they are living on the property. 

Key Points


Any family members who have debts and are living in the house are also protected under the Homestead Act in Massachusetts. 

$125,000 is automatically protected. 

A Homestead Declaration needs to be filed for up to $500,000 of protection to be initiated.  

How A Declaration Of Homestead Is Filed


You’ll need to go to the Registry Of Deeds in the county where the property is located in Massachusetts to file a Declaration Of Homestead. The document will need to be notarized and there is a fee associated with filing. You may be asked if you’d like to file the Homestead Protection during the purchase agreement signing for your Massachusetts home. Note that if a lien was put on your property before the Homestead Declaration is filed, you are not protected.

Talk to your real estate attorney and realtor for more details and information on how to file a Homestead Declaration when you purchase your Massachusetts home.

Should You Use Your 401k For A Downpayment On A House?

Your 401K is a great resource of investing for retirement. Many people use their 401k’s as a part of their overall investment strategies, pulling money out of it when it’s needed. When you’re ready to buy a house, you may think that pulling money out of your 401k for a down payment is a good idea. But think again. 

Although you should always speak with a financial professional about your money matters, the bottom line is that is probably not the best idea to use your 401k to supply money for a downpayment on a home. 

First, your 401k funds are pre-tax dollars. That means that you haven’t paid any taxes on these funds. Your employer will often match the amount of money that you put into your 401k, as an incentive to help you save money for your future. You need to keep your 401k for a certain amount of time before any funds in the 401k become available to you without having to pay any kind of penalty. If you decide to take on the penalty, you can often face a cut to your employer’s match programs as well. This is why you must make this decision wisely. 

The Penalties

Anyone under the age of 59.5 pays a penalty of 10 percent to take the money out of the fund. In addition, you’ll now need to pay taxes on this money, because it becomes a part of your adjusted gross income. 

Alternative Actions

If you are looking to invest in a property, there may be other options for you rather than pulling money out of your 401k. While some plans allow you to borrow money from it. However, if your only option to get money to invest in a property is to pull money from your retirement account, it may not be the best time to invest in property for you. 

Keep It Separate

If you’re younger (say in your 30’s or 40’s) your best option is to have a completely separate account that is used to save for a downpayment and other expenses that you’ll incur when you buy a home. In this sense you aren’t spreading yourself too thin as far as investments go. You should compartmentalize your money. Buying a home is a large investment in itself. Home equity can also be a good source of a nest egg in later years when you need it. However, even if a property will be an income property, it’s never smart to take from one investment account to provide for another unless you’re shifting your focus. You don’t want to reach retirement, only to see that your funds have been depleted and you can’t retire as expected.