How Long Do You Have to Live in Homestead for It to Be Protected?

Many of my clients currently live in another state and are considering moving to Florida for asset protection purposes. Almost everyone wants to know when homestead protection applies to a new Florida home they will buy.

The answer is that the owner has to actually live in the home as a permanent residence to make the house a Florida homestead.

A vacant lot cannot be homestead when the debtor intends to build a house on the lot even when the owner already placed building materials on the lot and has contracted with a builder (a debtor cannot occupy land without a structure thereon);

However, a homeowner can protect homestead land by erecting a tent on the lot, and living in the tent while the house is being built. In that case, the debtor prepared the house for occupancy, moved some belongings to the house, but lived in an apartment for a few days before moving in with his family. Living in a mobile home or a barn on the land pending home construction should also qualify.

Homestead protection attaches as soon as the owner purchases the house at closing even if he does not sleep in the house immediately thereafter.

The debtor does not have to occupy the house at all so long as it is occupied by family members as their principal residence.

Occupancy does not have be to continuous. You can reside elsewhere for part of the year, or you can live elsewhere indefinitely as long as you intend that your Florida residence is your primary home.

Florida law does not impose a minimum number of days each year for residence in a Florida homestead.

Jon Alper

About the Author

I’m a nationally recognized attorney specializing in asset protection planning. I graduated with honors from the University of Florida Law School and have practiced law for almost 50 years.

I have been recognized as a legal expert by media outlets such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. I have helped thousands of clients protect their assets from creditors.