Sunday, December 2, 2012

Word of the Month for December 2012: Homestead

legal definition help
One of the reasons I got into the Law Librarian business is because I have a thing for the down trodden.  People who are at their wits end, who are being bullied, who are fighting against all odds, who have no where else to go so they turn to their local county law librarian to help them identify options.  It is these people I serve best because I know they know their county law librarian is their last line of defense.  It is to these people that I dedicate the word of this month.

homestead declaration exemptionSee, we had a woman come into our library a while back.  Seems she had recorded a homestead declaration on her home to protect herself against judgements and debts and such.  Seems life hit her upside the head a few times and she got a judgment lien filed against her house (i.e. she owed a debt, couldn't pay it, so the creditor filed a lien against her only significant asset - her house).  Seems the creditor didn't want to wait until this lady could/would pay so he pushed forward seeking a Sheriff's sale (also, she had kinda intimated to the creditor that it would be a cold day in hell before she ever paid the debt - which didn't go over well with the creditor).  In desperation, and at the end of her rope, the woman went to her local county law library to see what she could do to prevent the sale of her home.

According to Black's Law Dictionary, a HOMESTEAD is the place designated as a person's primary place of residence.  A HOMESTEAD DECLARATION is a document that when signed and notarized protects a homestead against creditors on a debt.  In California, the law on Homesteads can be found at California Code of Civil Procedure section 740.710 et seq.  Want to read up on homesteads and how you might protect your home against creditors?  Then you might want to head over to your local county law library and take a look at Homestead Your House (Nolo Press) or Miller & Starr California Real Estate (West) Vol. 5, Chp. 13, or even Powell on Real Property (Lexis). 

Yep, that ought to get you going in the right direction.