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Real property


A homestead or homestead estate generally includes a house, outbuildings, and the adjoining land owned and occupied by a person or family as a primary residence.

Many states—but not all—have laws that protect a person’s homestead from forced sale for the satisfaction (payment) of debts—at least up to a certain amount of the homestead’s value. These laws may be referred to as homestead exemptions or homestead laws and may be located in a state’s constitution or in its statutes.

The homestead exemption exists to provide a secure home for the family against creditors. The exemption is liberally construed to further its purposes. No specific writing is needed to claim a homestead exemption, but instead merely proof of concurrent usage and intent on the part of the owner to claim the land as a homestead.

In some states the constitutional family homestead exemption applies to the entire family, and not to either spouse individually. Therefore, so long as real property is a family homestead due to one spouse's intention and use, that property is protected by the homestead exemption, unless full abandonment has been pleaded and proved. Once a property has been established as a homestead, the property remains exempt unless it ceases to be a homestead due to abandonment, alienation, or death.

Abandonment of a homestead occurs when the homestead claimant ceases to use the property and intends not to use it as a home again. Anyone asserting abandonment of a homestead has the burden of proving it by competent evidence.

In Texas, the homestead exemption is a legal provision that protects a person's primary residence from being forcibly sold to satisfy debts, up to a certain value. This exemption is enshrined in the Texas Constitution (Article XVI, Section 50) and further detailed in the Texas Property Code (Sections 41.001 to 41.024). Texas has one of the most generous homestead exemptions in the United States, allowing for an unlimited financial value on the amount of acreage protected—up to 10 acres in an urban area and 100 acres for a single adult (200 acres for a family) in a rural area. The exemption applies to the homestead estate, which includes the house, outbuildings, and adjoining land. To qualify, the property must be the owner's primary residence, and there is no need for a written claim to establish the homestead; it is based on usage and the owner's intent. The exemption is available to the entire family and not just to individual spouses, ensuring that the property remains protected as long as it is the family homestead. The homestead retains its exempt status unless it is abandoned, alienated, or upon the death of the owner. Abandonment requires proof that the claimant has ceased to use the property as a primary residence and does not intend to return.

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