Homestead Exemption

Some of the most frequently asked questions about the Homestead Exemption are:

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An individual is entitled to a homestead exemption consisting of Utah property in an amount not exceeding $30,000 in value if the property is the “primary personal residence” of the individual.  If the property claimed as exempt is jointly owned, each joint owner is entitled to a homestead exemption.  The maximum exemption may not exceed $60,000 per household.  (Utah Code § 78B-5-503).

The term “primary personal residence” means “a dwelling or mobile home, and the land surrounding it, not exceeding one acre, as is reasonably necessary for the use of the dwelling or mobile home, in which the individual and the individual’s household reside.  An individual may claim homestead exemption in one or more parcels of real property together with appurtenances and improvements.  (Utah Code § 78B-5-503(1)(c)).

An individual is also entitled to a homestead exemption consisting of property in Utah in an amount not exceeding $5,000 if the property consists in whole or in party of property which is not the primary personal residence of the individual. If the property is jointly owned, the joint owner is also entitled to a homestead exemption.  The total household exemption may not exceed $10,000.  (Utah Code § 78B-5-503(2)).

Here is an example:  John owns a home or mobile home worth $65,000.  John lives with his wife, who is a joint owner of the home, and their three children.  John is entitled to an exemption of $60,000 ($30,000 for him and $30,000 for his wife).  These exemptions do not apply to tax debts, any debt previously secured by the property (such as a mortgage or second mortgage), child support judgments, or any consensual liens obtained on debts created by mutual contract. (Utah Code §78B-5-503).

The general rule under the Bankruptcy Code is that you are entitled to claim exemptions, including homestead exemptions, under state law.  The applicable state law is determined by looking to “the place in which the debtor’s domicile has been located for the immediate 730 days prior to the date of filing.

If the debtor's "domicile" has not been located in a single state for a 730-day period, the applicable state law is determined by looking to “the place in which the debtor’s domicile was located for 180 days immediately preceding the 730-day period or for a longer portion of such 180-day period than in any other place.”  (11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(A)).

If you have lived somewhere other than Utah in the last 2 years and are considering filing bankruptcy, you may have to use the homestead exemptions of the state where you lived previously.

If you are being sued on debts you owe, and you own a house or mobile home, you may want to consider filing a homestead declaration.  Although filing a declaration is no longer necessary in order to claim this exemption. Your property may still be sold, but you will be entitled, in most instances, to receive a certain amount before your creditors are paid.

Copies of homestead declarations for both real property and a mobile home are available below.  If a sheriff’s sale of the property has already been scheduled, you should also deliver a signed and notarized copy to the sheriff before the time of the sale. (Utah Code § 78B-5-504(1)).

Only one homestead declaration can be filed by a family.  Once a homestead declaration is filed, both spouses must consent to a sale or other transfer of the property.  (Utah Code § 78B-5-504(4)).   If you file a declaration and later sell your home, the part of the proceeds protected by the declaration will be exempt for one year.  The sale and disposition of the property for which you file a homestead declaration does not prevent the selection or purchase of another homestead.  (Utah Code § 78B-5-503(6)).

In accordance with Utah Code § 78B-5-503, I make this declaration of homestead as follows:

1.  I maintain that I am entitled to an exemption.  [I am married, and my spouse has not filed a Declaration of Homestead.]

2.   I claim as a homestead the land and dwelling(s) thereon described more fully below, together with appurtenances and improvements.  Such property is my primary personal residence.

[Description of the property claimed as exempt.  Best to include parcel number and legal description.  You may also attach a separate page [Exhibit A] with a description]

3.  I estimate the cash value of this property to be approximately $____________________.

4.  I claim a total exemption of $30,000.

5.  My spouse [or joint owner] claims a total exemption of $30,000.

Name of spouse or joint owner: ______________________________

Age of spouse or joint owner: ________________________________

Address of spouse or joint owner: _____________________________

Dated this _______ day of _____________, ____________.

 

By: ________________________________

 

Print Name: _________________________

 

Address: ____________________________

 

SUBSCRIBED, SWORN TO, AND ACKNOWLEDGED before me in ________________ County, State of Utah, this ____ day of ________________, ___________.

 

____________________________________

Notary Public

Residing at: _________________________

In accordance with Utah Code § 78B-5-503, I make this declaration of homestead as follows:

1.  I maintain that I am entitled to an exemption.  [I am married, and my spouse has not filed a Declaration of Homestead.]

2.  I claim as a homestead the mobile home in which I reside described more fully below.  Such property is my primary personal residence.

[Description of the property claimed as exempt.  You may also attach a separate page [Exhibit A] with a description]

  1. I estimate the cash value of this property to be approximately $____________________.
  2. I claim a total exemption of $30,000.
  3. My spouse [or joint owner] claims a total exemption of $30,000.

Name of spouse or joint owner: ______________________________

Age of spouse or joint owner:  _______________________________

Address of spouse or joint owner: ____________________________

Dated this _______ day of _____________, ___________.

 

By: ________________________________

 

Print Name: _________________________

 

Address: ____________________________

 

SUBSCRIBED, SWORN TO, AND ACKNOWLEDGED before me in ________________ County, State of Utah, this ____ day of ________________, ___________.

 

____________________________________

Notary Public

Residing at: ______________

If you have questions about homestead declarations, you may contact your County Recorder’s Office.  Utah Legal Services may also be able to help.  Call 328-8891 in the Salt Lake area or statewide toll free 1-800-662-4245.

The information in this site is not intended as legal advice.
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