In Florida, homestead property receives special treatment in probate cases. Homestead property is not subject to the debts of a decedent, except for mortgage expenses, mechanic’s liens, HOA dues, special assessments, and nonpayment of taxes. All other debts, including credit card or medical debt, will not attach to homestead property. Additionally, homestead property is released from the control of the personal representative early in a typical probate case. It is immediately devised to the beneficiaries through a petition and order determining the property to be homestead.
This leads to the question as to what is considered homestead property in Florida. Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution defines homestead property as an individual’s principle place of residence of up to ½ acre of contiguous property within the municipality and 160 acres outside of a municipality. There is no limit placed on the value of the property, therefore an unlimited amount of value can be protected in probate by homestead laws. Florida courts also include many other definitions of “homestead property,” including condos, manufactured homes, and mobile homes.
Any real property that is not a person’s principal place of residence and does not meet the definition described in Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution is not considered homestead and therefore not afforded homestead protection. A second home, investment or rental property, or possibly even vacant land cannot be considered homestead.