What does it mean to have a homestead?
Homestead laws are primarily governed by state laws, which vary by state. They may deal with such matters as the ability of creditors to attach a person's home, the amount of real estate taxes owed on the home, or the ability of the homeowner to mortgage or devise the home under a will, among other issues.
For example, in one state, when you record a Declaration of Homestead, the equity in your home is protected up to a statutory amount. In another state, there is no statutory limit. This protection precludes seizure or forced sale of your residence by general creditor claims (unpaid medical bills, bankruptcy, charge card debts, business & personal loans, accidents, etc.). State laws often provide a homestead exemption for older citizens so that a certain dollar amount of the home's value is exempt from real estate taxes. Other laws may provide rules for a person's ability to mortgage or devise the homestead. Local laws should be consulted for requirements in your area.