Texas Homestead Protection Laws
Texas offers its citizens broad protection from having their homes or other valuable assets seized to satisfy a judgment. As a general rule, a judgment creditor cannot take your home, your car, most of your personal property, your wages, or your retirement accounts. I’ve listed below the various protections offered to Texas citizens from their creditors
By far the most important protection for Texas citizens is the Texas Homestead law. The homestead law protects your home, whether it is a shotgun shack or the Taj Mahal. Your homestead cannot be seized and sold to satisfy your creditors.
Texas law defines two types of homesteads: urban and rural. To qualify as a homestead, the land must be used as your home. It can be used both as your home and for a business and still be considered your homestead. An urban homestead consists of not more than 10 contiguous acres of land. A rural homestead consists of up to 200 acres of land for a family and 100 acres of land for a single person. The homestead exemption protects the land as well as all of the structures on it, regardless of value.
Personal Property Exemptions
Texas law lists a variety of personal property that is exempt from seizure, up to an aggregate value of $60,000 for a family or $30,000 for a single person. The list includes:
1. Home furnishings, including family heirlooms.
2. Provisions for consumption.
3. Farming or ranching vehicles and implements.
4. Tools, equipment, books, and apparatus, including boats and motor vehicles used in a trade or profession.
5. Wearing apparel.
6. Jewelry not to exceed 25 percent of the applicable aggregate limit.
7. Two firearms.
8. Athletic and sporting equipment, including bicycles.
9. A two-wheeled, three-wheeled, or four-wheeled motor vehicle for each member of a family or single adult who holds a driver’s license or who does not hold a driver’s license but who relies on another person to operate the vehicle for the benefit of the nonlicensed person.
10. The following animals and forage on hand for their consumption: 2 horses, mules, or donkeys and a saddle, blanket and bridle for each; 12 head of cattle; 60 head of other types of livestock; and 120 fowl
11. Household pets.
12. Unpaid commissions for personal services not to exceed 25 percent of the aggregate limits.
In determining the value of the foregoing property, the amount of any liens or security interests is deducted from the fair market value of the property.
In addition to the foregoing property, the following categories of property are exempt and do not count towards the aggregate dollar limits:
1. Current wages for personal services, except for the enforcement of court-ordered child support payments
2. Professionally prescribed health aids of a debtor or dependent of the debtor
3. Alimony, support or separate maintenance received or to be received by the debtor for the support of the debtor or dependent of the debtor
4. Most retirement plans, including most pension and IRA plans
5. Certain types of college savings plans
Limits of Homestead Protection
The homestead protections do not protect your homestead from foreclosure by the lender who loaned money to help you purchase it, from home equity lenders who have made a loan secured by the property, from debts for property taxes or income taxes, or from mechanics and materialman’s liens held by contractors and suppliers of materials used for improvements on the property.
With a few exceptions, the personal property exemptions do not protect personal property from seizure to satisfy a child support debt. Child support debts are typically enforced by wage garnishments.