What is FL Homestead Exemption and how does it help O.J. Simpson?

After spending almost a decade in prison, Orenthal James Simpson, more famously known as O.J Simpson or The Juice, is looking at early parole as soon as October 1 for good behavior. At the moment O.J Simpson still owes a little over $30 million to the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman after being found liable for their deaths by a civil jury in 1997. It is reported that after being released from prison Mr. Simpson will find sanctuary from his creditors in the sunshine state of Florida.

The state of Florida has been notoriously known for protecting its citizens from creditors with its generous asset protection laws. In Florida your home is truly a castle, a castle so strong that not even the Dragon queen, Daenerys Targaryen, can penetrate its walls.  Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution establishes this protection against creditors. Let’s break down homestead exemption and how it helps you as a homeowner. Under the Florida Constitution, Homestead exemption accomplishes three types of exemptions:

  1. Exemption from forced sale before and at death
  2. Restrictions on devise and alienation
  3. And exemption from taxation per Art. VII, Section 6 (will be discussed in greater detail in next blog)

First off let’s define what constitutes a Homestead. A homestead is the home where you and your family reside in, which comprises of land, house, and outbuildings.

The state of Florida prohibits creditors to force an individual to sell its homestead in order to pay back a debt, including their heirs. Unlike other states, Florida’s exemption from forced sale provides an even greater protection by not limiting the value of certain real property that can be protected from creditors.

In addition to protection against creditors, Florida homestead exemption protects the right of spouses/family members living in that homestead, regardless of whether you are on the title of that property or not. The restrictions on devise and alienation give the homestead owner a basic outline on how he/she can transfer their homestead. In life, restrictions on alienation impede the owner of a homestead of selling his property by requiring the consent from his/her spouse. In death, restrictions on devise impede the owner from devising his property in the event he is survived by a spouse and/or minor children.  For example, should a husband die and in his will leave his homestead to his mistress rather than his wife, the transfer would be denied by the court.  Or rather in life, should a husband decide to transfer his homestead to his mistress, he would first need the consent of his wife in order to do so. On the other hand he would be able to transfer his non-homestead property however and to whomever he wishes.

It is no wonder that O.J. Simpson finds comfort in knowing that a homestead he may acquire will be protected here in Florida. Should he buy and reside in a new home here in our sunshine state, his property and assets therein would be securely protected behind our Florida Homestead Exemption laws from his “creditors”, the families of his victims, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. But while O.J. Simpson may think he’s outsmarted his creditors, in the end no one can run from the Dragon Queen, Daenerys Targaryen.