If you guessed “homestead,” you are correct. Florida has several different types of “homestead,” which can arise in various scenarios and are applied depending on the circumstances of any given time. Courts have interpreted homestead over the years, and case law has ebbed and flowed. Thus, the homestead issue has earned the nickname of “Florida’s Legal Chameleon.”
First, the deadline in Florida to apply for your homestead exemption with the property appraiser in your county for reduced taxes is MARCH 1. If you do not submit your application by March 1, you will have to wait until next year to apply for the exemption. If you purchased your home after January 1, 2023, you would need to wait until 2024 to claim the exemption. Not all properties, nor do all property owners, qualify for the homestead tax exemption.
Second, Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution protects homestead property from creditors, and establishes restrictions on conveyances of homestead property, with exceptions. Again, this is not a blanket protection. There are rules, and there are exceptions.
Speak with your attorney if you are looking to purchase or sell homestead property or if you need assistance understand how homestead applies to you. The homestead question is also important in determining how to structure your estate planning documents.
-Emily A. Helmick, Esq.