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July 14, 2024 Clear | 75°F
The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 5: Declaration of homestead; contents; recording

Section 5. (a) A declaration of homestead shall be in writing, signed and acknowledged under penalty of perjury by each owner to be benefited by the homestead, except as provided in clause (4), shall be recorded and shall comply with the following:

(1) each owner to be benefited by the homestead, and the owner's non-titled spouse, if any, shall be identified;

(2) the declaration shall state that each person named therein occupies or intends to occupy the home as their principal residence;

(3) if the home is co-owned by a married couple, whether in their names only or as co-tenants with others, and the home is the principal residence or is intended to be the principal residence of both spouses, a declaration under section 3 shall be executed by both spouses; and

(4) if the home is owned in trust, only the trustee shall execute the declaration.

(b) A declaration of homestead under section 2 shall, in addition to the requirements of subsection (a), include the following:

(1) a statement that the owner to be benefited is an elderly person or a disabled person; and

(2) with respect to a declaration of homestead benefiting a disabled person: (i) an original or certified copy of a disability award letter issued to the person by the United States Social Security Administration; or (ii) a letter signed by a physician registered with the board of registration in medicine certifying that the person meets the disability requirements stated in 42 U.S.C. 1382c(a)(3)(A) and 42 U.S.C. 1382c(a)(3)(C) as in effect at the time of recording; provided, however, that the award letter or physician's letter shall be recorded with the declaration.

(c) A declaration of homestead shall not be created within a deed or other instrument vesting title in the owner.

(d) The statement of principal residence required in clause (2) of subsection (a) shall be binding upon an identified owner, including an owner who is a beneficiary of a trust, but may be overcome by an interested third party upon presentation of clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. In the event that spouses occupy or intend to occupy separate homes and valid declarations are recorded with respect to each, then both estates of homestead together shall not exceed the declared homestead exemption.

The estate of homestead of an individual who records a declaration of homestead under section 3 and who subsequently marries shall automatically be deemed to benefit that individual's spouse. Any subsequent recording of a declaration of homestead benefiting: (i) a family member identified on a prior declaration on the same home; or (ii) the spouse of that person, without an intervening release, shall relate back to the filing date of the earliest recorded declaration, but the provisions of this chapter pursuant to which the later recorded declaration was made shall control the rights of a person identified in the later declaration.

(e) The declaration of homestead shall recite whether the owner, the owner's spouse or other family member to be benefitted is a servicemember who may be subject to protection under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. app. § 533, should that owner, spouse or family member be called to active duty. A failure to include a recital as to servicemember status shall not affect the validity or enforceability of the declaration and the rights created thereunder.