In Florida, you may be able to protect the value of your primary residence, including the building and the land, from creditors, and receive a discount on property taxes. If you meet the qualifications of homestead in Florida, you will want to make sure you take full advantage of all the benefits. Florida homestead laws are among the most favorable in the country for homeowners and can help save you and your family a lot of money. There are three primary components to Florida homestead to consider.
When a property is established as homestead, the property owner will qualify for some very important tax exemptions. First is the general exemption, which will be applied to the first $25,000 of property value plus the assessed value of the property between $50,000 to $75,000 for all levies other than school district levies. Potentially, this can result in a $50,000 reduction in assessed value. This can dramatically reduce the overall property tax burden, relatively speaking, that one has to pay, especially for those whose properties have a more modest value. The tax exemption was designed to help those with lower incomes by exempting a larger percentage of their home’s value.
In addition, other exemptions may be available for low-income seniors, widow(er)s, and disabled veterans.
Another benefit pertinent to property taxes is the “Save Our Homes” program, which limits the increase in assessed property value from increasing more than 3% per year. The program prevents property taxes from increasing by a substantial amount in a single year.
Florida law offers significant protections from creditors who seek to place a lien on your home. If your home enjoys the protection of the homestead laws, creditors may not place a lien on it or force a sale in order to obtain money that you owe. Exceptions do exist for tax liens, liens associated with a mortgage, a mechanic’s lien, and any liens that were in effect prior to the property becoming homestead property.
Upon death, this protection from creditors may inure to those who receive the homestead property if they fall into the class of persons described by the Florida intestacy statutes as heirs. Certain limitations do apply. For example, the extent of protected homestead is limited to 0.5 acres in an incorporated area or up to 160 acres in an unincorporated area.
Descent and Devise Restrictions
Owners of homestead property must consider limitations on post-death distributions of the property. If there is a living spouse, or any living minor children, restrictions apply. If there is no spouse or minor children, the homestead can pass to anyone that you would like. It is important to note that this applies even to devising the property through a will or trust.