Actually living off the grid is rare, but millions of American homeowners can truly call themselves homesteaders. That’s because the Federal Government – and most state governments too – extend special legal protections to homeowners’ primary residences.
Generally known as “homestead exemptions” (and the properties they protect generally known as “homesteads,” or “homesteaded properties”), these statutes exist to protect owner-occupants from excessive taxation, provide shelter for surviving spouses after their partners pass on, and shield some or all homestead equity from certain types of creditors. The federal homestead exemption applies specifically to homeowners filing bankruptcy. State homestead exemptions tend to be broader, with provisions that shield homeowners from some property taxes and, following death, provide their surviving spouses and dependents with protections against unsecured creditors and other claimants trying to seize their primary residence.