Right to Homestead – the right to occupy land for use as a home, wherein the land house, and outbuildings are exempt from execution an forced sale for collection of a debt by creditors

n. (bef. 12c)

1. The house, outbuilding , and adjoining land owned and occupied by a person or family as a residence.  *  As long as the homestead does not exceed in area or value the limits fixed by law, in most states it is exempt from forced sale for collection of a debt. — aka homestead estate. —homestead, vb. —homesteading, n

2. A surviving spouse’s right of occupying the family home for life.  *  In some states, the right is extended to other dependents of a decedent. [1]

1. The home place; the place where the home is.  It is the home, the house & the adjoining land, where the head of the family dwells; the home farm.  Technically, however, & under the modern homestead laws, a homestead is an artificial estate in land, devised to protect the possession and enjoyment of the owner against the claims of his creditors, by withdrawing the property from execution and forced sale, so long as the land is occupied as a home. [2]

1. In a popular sense, the place of the home — the residence of the family; it represents the dwelling house in which the family resides, with the usual and customary appurtenances, including the outbuildings of every kind necessary or convenient for family use, and the lands used for the purposes thereof.  In a legal sense, a term strictly American, but susceptible to a variety of conceptions, one being immunity from the claims of creditors, another the restriction of the conveyance or incumbering of such property, still another a provision for surviving spouse and minor children to be made out of the lands of a decedent, which may or may not be property to which a homestead exemption has attached, and, in still other senses, the right, based on residence and cultivation, to acquire a tract of land out of the public lands of the United States, and the subject of such a right.  26 Am J1st Home § 1.

Used in a will by way of describing the subject matter of a devise, it is uniformly held that the term “homestead” is not limited to the quantity or value of land denominated in applicable statutes as constituting an exemption from execution. 57 Am J1st Wills § 1356.
head of family; homestall; householder; probate homestead; reassignment of homestead; rural homestead; urban homestead. [3]

1. In a legal sense, the right to own real property free and clear of the claims of creditors, provided the owner occupies the property as her home.  See head of family; head of household.

2. In a more general sense, the place of residence of the family. [4]


1. Someone who acquires or occupies a homestead. [1]

1. The claimant of a homestead; one who has made a homestead entry on public lands and is residing, upon the lands entered, for the purpose of perfecting his entry and ultimately acquiring title. 42 Am J1st Home §§ 19 et seq. [3]

homestead exemption:

1. A statute exempting a homestead from execution or judicial sale for debt, unless all owners, usu. a husband and wife, have jointly mortgaged the property or otherwise subjected it to creditors’ claims. —aka homestead law; homestead-exemption statute; homestead right; right of homestead. [1]

1. The exemption created by act of Congress declaring that no lands acquired under federal homestead and timber culture laws shall be liable for the satisfaction of any debt contracted prior to their acquisition from the government.  42 Am J1st Pub L § 27.

The exemption from execution, provided by constitution or statute, of a prescribed amount or tract of land occupied by the debtor as the head of the family residing thereon.  26 Am J1st Home §§ 2 et seq. [3]

1. Under homestead exemption statutes, the immunity of real property from execution for debt, provided the property is occupied by the debtor as the head of the family.  See head of family. [4]

homestead laws:

1. The statutes relative to the acquisition of a homestead out of the public domain.  42 Am J2d Pub L § 20.
See homestead exemption; pre-emption laws. [3]

homestead exemption statutes:

1. State statutes that provide for a homestead exemption. [4]

homestead right:

1. A quality annexed to land whereby an estate is exempted from sale under execution for debt. Little john v Egerton, 77 NC 379, 384.

A statutory privilege which may be asserted where the homestead property of the family is sought to be subjected to the payment of a debt not a lien, whereunder either or both spouses may claim the homestead as exempt from seizure.  Thompson v Marlin, 116 Okla 159, 243 P 950.

The right to enter upon unappropriated public land for the purpose of occupying a tract and ultimately acquiring title to it under the homestead laws. 42 Am J1st Pub §§ 9 et seq. [3]

entry under homestead law:

1. The act by which an individual acquires an inceptive right to a portion of the unappropriated soil of the public domain, consisting in the filing of a claim in the propert land office of the United States or, in case fo the public domain of a state, in the office of an entry-taker or other officer with similar authority.  42 Am J1st Pub L §§ 19 et seq. — aka homestead entry.
See contest of land entryoriginal entrypreemption entry

abandonment of homestead:

1. An actual relinquishment of possession fo the premises and removal therefrom, coupled with an intention to abandon the use of the property as a homestead, or an intention to remain away after such removal.  See 26 Am J1st Home § 193.

declaration of homestead:

1. A statement of the fact of claiming a homestead exemption describing the property selected and filed with the county recorder for the purpose fo showing the world that the occupants claim their homestead exemption rights in the property.  26 Am J1st home § 90.

admeasurement of homestead:

1. A preliminary to an execution sale of property of a judgment debtor who is entitled to a homestead exemption in a part of the trace sought to be subjected to execution and sale.  26 Am J1st Home § 96.

excessive homestead:

1. A selected homestead exemption which exceeds in value the amount fixed by the statute which creates the exemption.  26 Am J1st Home § 43.

Not a selection which creditors can attack successfully as illegal, their remedy being to reach the excess in value. [3]

Types of Homesteads:

business homestead (1882) The premises on which a family’s business is located. and in some states, business homesteads are exempt from execution or judicial sale for most kinds of debt.

constitutional homestead (1851) A homestead, along with its exemption from forced sale, conferred on the head of a household by a state constitution. — aka statutory homestead; pony homestead.

probate homestead (1881) A homestead created by a probate court from a decedent’s estate for the benefit of the decedent’s surviving spouse and minor children.  *  Under most statutes providing for the creation of a probate homestead, it is exempt from forced sale for the collection of decedent’s debts.  The family can remain in the home at least until the youngest child reaches the age of majority.  Many states allow the surviving spouse to live in the home for life.  In a few states, such as Texas, the right to a probate homestead is constitutional. 
See family allowance, spousal allowance under ALLOWANCE (1); HOMESTEAD LAW.  Cf. life estate under ESTATE (1).

homestead association – An association comparable to a savings and loan association.

homestead ex vi termini:

1. A homestead by the force of the term or expression; that is, in its ordinary meaning, the family seat or mansion. Turner v Turner, 107 Ala 465, 18 So 310.

homestead servants:

1. Domestic servants.  57 Am J1st Wills § 1395[3]

See Resources for Homesteaders.


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[1] Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]:  Black’s Law Dictionary Second Edition Online, “HOMESTEAD”: http://thelawdictionary.org/homestead/

[3]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[4]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition by Jack Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


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