What are the homestead laws in Florida? The homestead laws were provided for in the Florida Constitution. The one that people are most familiar with is in Article XV that deals with real estate taxes. And it provides that if you’re a resident of Florida and you live in your home and you move in and own it before the end of any particular year, you can apply for homestead exemption by March 1st of the following year and obtain homestead exemption on taxes. That means if you were granted homestead exemption, you get exempt the first $25,000 of your assessed valuation or taxable valuation from taxes which saves you about $500. You have to pay taxes on the taxable value of the property from $25,000 to $50,000. You get to exempt from $50,000 to $75,000 all taxes except school taxes and that will save you about another $300 and then you pay for all the tax on anything above $75,000.
There is an added benefit to having homestead exemption. It’s under Save Our Homes and I’m not sure where that’s provided for in the Constitution, but the net effect of it is that if you have homestead exemption the tax value of your property will not increase by more than three percent or the cost of living index, the lesser of the two. In years past that’s gone up very, very little and the longer you own the property the more you can appreciate it. So if your tax valuation does not go up every year, well then your tax bill should remain approximately the same since it’s only a millage rate and hovers around two percent in the county. It’s a little bit more if you live in a city.
So homestead exemption is really a great benefit and the longer you live in your home the more you appreciate it. The other nice thing about homestead and if you decide to sell your home and move to another house, whether you’re upsizing or downsizing, be sure you go whenever you apply for a homestead exemption on your new home, take your old tax bill with you and advise the property appraiser when you apply for homestead exemption that you had homestead on your prior home and there is something about portability, meaning they’ll prorate your old assessed valuation against the new assessed valuation and you can get to carryover some of the benefits from having homestead exemption on your original home.
So that’s I believe under Article XV as far as the tax valuation. Under Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution, it provides that the creditors cannot place a lien or a claim on your homestead property. That’s property that you live in and you can protect that from the claims of creditors. It doesn’t matter how much you owe your credit card company or doctors or anyone else other than the United States Government, they cannot take away your home. Now there is an exception for the Internal Revenue Service and the federal government in that they can attach your home even though it’s homestead property. If you file for bankruptcy, there are certain rules as far as be able to exempt it as homestead. Here again that’s governed by federal law and will tell you how long you’ve lived and if you’ve owned the home for a certain number of days which I think comes to about two or three years, well then you can exempt the property. A lot also has to do with how much your homestead is worth as far as how much the exemption can be. But the Florida Constitution does protect your home from creditors.
Another thing that you don’t want to think about but if you pass away and you leave your home to your children or your grandchildren or your heirs, that exemption says inures or passes down to your children. So if you leave a bunch of credit card debt or any kind of medical bills, whatever you leave behind as far as bills are concerned and you leave your home to your children other than a mortgage, they don’t have to pay the creditors any money and the house or your homestead passes to your children.
This is a very complicated subject and so I might do another video about whether or not to put your homestead in a trust or a joint trust as far as that’s concerned and also the effects of transferring your home during your lifetime on Medicare and Medicaid. So if you have any questions about homestead, give me a call at 727-847-2288.