homestead declaration - protecting the equity in your home

Homestead Declaration in California: Declared & Automatic Deed

Updated on August 22, 2023

Discover the Homestead Declaration, a crucial protective measure designed to safeguard the property and financial interests of homeowners in California. This legal document, also referred to as a Homestead Exemption, serves as a vital shield against creditor claims, ensuring the security of a homeowner’s cherished dwelling.

By officially filing the Homestead Declaration at the county recorder’s office, homeowners can establish essential legal provisions that protect their real property and grant them exemptions from property taxes. Our comprehensive guide delves into the significance of the Homestead Declaration, the associated fees, and addresses other important questions to aid you in navigating this fundamental aspect of property ownership, all in accordance with California state law.

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote a blog on what the Purpose of a Homestead was, which was part one of the Homestead series. This is part two of the two-part information series regarding the homestead.  The first part served as a general introduction to homestead, and briefly covered the topic of the automatic exemptions and the declared exemptions in a homestead.

This second part gets into the Homestead exemption amounts and some of the key differences between the automatic homestead and the declared homestead.

Key Takeaways:

  • This post discusses the exemption amounts for both declared homesteads and automatic homesteads.
  • Declared homestead status requires a proper declaration drafted and recorded.
  • Declared homestead protections offer more flexibility
  • In a voluntary sale, declared homesteads protect the sale proceeds up to the applicable statutory amount.
  • Declared homestead protections can survive the death of the declared homestead owner and pass on to certain family members.
  • To declare a homestead, individuals should review the requirements outlined in C.C.P. § 704.930.
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California Homestead Exemption Amount

Whether you elect to declare a homestead or you take rights under the automatic homestead, pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure § 704.730 the homestead exemption amounts are as follows:

los angeles county homestead declaration

Declared Homesteads and Automatic Homestead Explained

A declared homestead status arises when the declaration is properly drafted and recorded. (See C.C.P. §§ 704.910 & 704.920.)  On the other hand, the automatic homestead requires the following:

  1. The judgment debtor must reside in the dwelling in question when the creditor-judgment lien attaches, and thereafter.
  2. The judgment debtor must continuously reside in the dwelling until the date the court determines that the dwelling is a homestead.

(See C.C.P.§ 704.710(c).) Thus, the declared homestead protects the homeowner even if the homeowner moves. (C.C.P.§ 704.920.)  The automatic homestead does not have the same flexibility. (See C.C.P.§ 704.710(c).) Other differences between the declared and homestead exemptions include:

  1. In the event of a voluntary sale, the declared homestead protects the sale proceeds up to the applicable statutory amount. In contrast, the automatic homestead offers no protection from a voluntary sale. Thus, if you voluntarily sell your home without declaring a homestead, depending on the judgment amount, there is a possibility that the judgment creditor will receive all of the proceeds.  (See C.C.P.§§ 704.960.)  For the automatic homestead protections to apply there must be a  forced sale of the dwelling.
  2. Unlike the automatic homestead, the protections of a declared homestead survive the death of the declared homestead if, at the time of the death, the dwelling was the principal dwelling of one or more of the following persons to whom all or part of the interest of the deceased declared homestead owner passes.
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a. The surviving spouse of the decedent.

b. A member of the family of the decedent.

If you are interested in declaring a homestead a good place to start is by reviewing the requirements of C.C.P. § 704.930. Our real estate attorneys at Schorr Law have a great deal of experience with real estate matters and disputes. To see if you qualify for a free 30-minute consultation, contact Los Angeles probate litigation lawyer today. Text: (310) 706-2265 | Call: (310) 954-1877 | Email: [email protected] | Send us a Message!

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