Simply put, a homestead if a family home. Legally speaking, the term equates to the special protections from creditors given to every Texas family home or the home of a single person. This also applies to the home of a surviving spouse, minor children and unmarried children of a deceased owner. Homestead tax exemptions are a different topic that will be discussed in our next blog. See

The homestead exemption as protector from creditors is deemed the most important aspect of the law. Many Americans who settled in Texas in the early 19th century were being chased by creditors. To protect them, Stephen F. Austin put forth a moratorium on the collection of the new colonists’ foreign debt. Remember, Texas was not a state at this time. 


A decree was enacted and called Decree No. 70 of 1829. Although this was repealed in 1831 the idea remained alive in the minds of Texans and thus became a model for the Texas Act of 1839, protecting the home of a family from seizure by a creditor. This idea was embodied in the Constitution of 1845 and was unique only to Texas being its claim to fame to jurisprudence. 

A Texas homestead is not secure from seizure for a debt owed to the federal government. Old Uncle Sam and the IRS can still take your home away from you and your children. 

Contrary to belief and unlike the homestead tax exemption, which must be filed, designation of a homestead is achieved by the actual use and no filing of a record to claim one’s home is needed.

Homestead law means that each spouse must agree to any transfer or encumbrance of a homestead and neither spouse can nullify or abandon the homestead without the consent of the other. Widows or widowers need not worry either as a surviving spouse is entitled to the sole occupancy of a homestead for life.

You must use the property as a permanent home. Weekend or holiday use generally is not enough to claim the property as a homestead. A homestead can be either urban or rural. An urban homestead can be a home or a place of business or both. Although there is no dollar limit to the value of urban or rural homesteads there is a size limit. 

Rural homesteads are limited to 200 acres for a family and 100 acres for a single adult including improvements. Urban homesteads are limited to ten acres with improvements that must be in an adjacent lot. Learn more at


If you are relocating to the North Texas area, you will enjoy the following information here: