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Supreme Judicial Court Rules That Trusts Were Ineligible for Homestead Protection Under Pre-March 25, 2011 Massachusetts Law

February 22, 2012

Before the new Massachusetts homestead law took effect on March 16, 2011, it was an unsettled question of law as to whether the Trustee or beneficiary of a trust was eligible to file a valid Declaration of Homestead.  On February 6, 2012, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts decided in Boyle v. Weiss that the beneficiary of a trust could not file a valid Declaration of Homestead under pre-March 16, 2011 .

Note that the Court did not invalidate the preferred method under previous law, which was to file a Declaration of Homestead individually, then reserve the homestead rights when deeding the home to a trust.

Anybody who before March 16, 2011 attempted to file a Declaration of Homestead for a trust should consider filing a new one under the present law, but note that a beneficiary of a trust still cannot file a Declaration of Homestead under the new version of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 188.  Instead, the Trustee must do so on behalf of the trust’s beneficiary and must identify the beneficiary in the legal instrument.

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