Homestead Availability for Trusts

Q: Are Homestead Exemptions Available when Property is Titled in a Trust?

A property tax discount is generally available in Georgia to those who occupy the property as their primary resident as of January first of a given year. This exemption is known as the basic homestead exemption. The question arises as to whether the exemption is available if the property is titled in the name of a trust, and more specifically an intervivos trust.

Assuming all criteria are otherwise met, a trust can qualify for the homestead exemption. The filing requirements vary by county, but essentially require the individual to file an affidavit that says that individual will actually be residing in the property as a primary residence and has not claimed any other homestead exemption.

A summary of the requires include–
  • An executed trust affidavit (in some counties this can be mailed in, rather than having to appear).
  • A copy of the deed showing the trust as the owner of the property.
  • The person filing must be a beneficiary of the trust.

Standard criteria for meeting the homestead exemption must of course be met, which include–
  • Legally residing in the property as of January 1st of the year claiming the exemption.
  • If there is a deed change (other than a refinance), the exemption must be reapplied for (this includes marriage, death or divorce)
  • Evidence of legal residency or U.S. citizenship.
  • Current vehicle registration or receipt of motor vehicle taxes paid in the county
  • Husband and wife may claim only one exemption

Additional exemptions that might also qualify by a trust are—
  • disabled veterans or the un-remarried surviving spouse
  • the un-remarried surviving spouse of a firefighter or peace officer killed in the line of duty, age 62 or older or 100% disabled may qualify for additional exemptions.

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