As previously mentioned, Texas law allows residents to exclude a broad range of personal property as exempt homestead property set-asides. Exempt personal property set-asides include any personal property of up to $60,000 per family or $30,000 for unmarried residents. This includes household furnishings, business property and tools, clothing, toys and books. Texas homestead exemptions include farming or agricultural equipment, some agriculture livestock and household pets and athletic equipment. The agricultural and farming exemption allows you to set-aside up to 12 cattle, up to 60 other livestock, domestic pets and 120 fowl. Texans may exclude up to two firearms as homestead set-aside property.
The homestead exemption does not distinguish between community and separate property. Thus, separate property acquired before marriage and separate property acquired by gift or inheritance during and after marriage is subject to the exempt treatment. Homestead property also includes community or marital property acquired by one spouse or both spouses during marriage. As such, if the homestead exemption attaches to any item of real or personal property, it does not matter when it was acquired. Thus, if you die with only community property, your surviving spouse may be able to inherit your entire estate as a surviving owner. As previously discussed, although most creditors cannot reach homestead and set-aside property, some secured creditors may be able to use them to satisfy their existing debts. Because of the homestead property exemption laws, understanding what your probate assets include and what creditors cannot reach is important, and we may be able to further explain the provisions.