DEFINITION of 'Homestead Exemption'

Laws designed to protect the value of a home from property taxes and creditors following the death of a homeowner spouse. A homestead exemption can be found in state statutes and constitutional provisions across the U.S. and is an automatic benefit in some states. In states where the homestead protection is not automatic, homeowners must file a claim which must be re-filed when moving primary residences.

BREAKING DOWN 'Homestead Exemption'

The primary features of homestead exemptions are typically meant to provide shelter for the surviving spouse while preventing the forced sale of a home to meet creditor obligations and property taxes. Most homestead exemptions use a monetary value to determine property tax protection, implementing a progressive-style tax to home value in order to assure that homes with lower assessed value benefit the most from the exemption.

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