Understanding the Homestead Exemption: “Is my home protected if I need to vacate it for medical reasons?”

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Dec 18

Question:

I know that in Wisconsin creditors cannot take my home away from me so long as I am living in it. I have had to leave my home for medical reasons. Do I now lose it?

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Answer:

Probably not. It is not true, however, that you are entitled to keep your home just because you are living in it.

Wisconsin provides homeowners with a homestead exemption.  The amount of that exemption is $75,000 ($150,000 for a married couple). This amount is based on the equity in the property.

If you have a home worth $300,000 and a $200,000 mortgage loan on it, the equity is $100,000. You as an individual could accept $75,000 of that amount. If you are married, you and your spouse can each exempt $50,000 and all the equity will be protected.

The homestead exemption can be lost if you vacate the home. In your case, you would probably still be entitled to the homestead exemption. A temporary removal from the homestead for medical care reasons should not cause you to lose your equity or your exemption.

Another example when someone can vacate the home and still be entitled to the exemption is in a divorce or a domestic abuse situation. Wisconsin does not require a person to remain in a difficult situation like that to avoid risking the exemption.

Wisconsin has long favored homestead exemptions for its residents. Do not put your right to an exemption in jeopardy. If you are unsure of your facts or your entitlement to your exemption, consult an insolvency lawyer.

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