Q: Does the Homestead Rule Affect Mortgages for Married Wisconsin Residents? 

A: Yes.

Wis. Stat. Section 706.02(1)(f) requires that each spouse with homestead rights must sign the mortgage for it to be valid, unless an exception applies. In this context, homestead means the dwelling, and so much of the land surrounding it as is reasonably necessary for use of the dwelling as a home, but not less than one-fourth acre, if available, and not exceeding 40 acres. It is WBA's understanding that title companies are typically able to provide an indication of whether the property would be considered a homestead under this definition.

Once a bank has determined the pledged property is a homestead, it must consider Section 706.02(1)(f). If the mortgage alienates any interest of a married person in a homestead, then each married individual must sign the mortgage in order for it to be valid. The only exceptions to this rule are for conveyances between spouses and for purchase money mortgages.

706.02(1)(f) can be found here: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/706/02/1/f

Birrenkott is WBA assistant director – legal. For legal questions, please email wbalegal@wisbank.com.

Note: The above information is not intended to provide legal advice; rather, it is intended to provide general information about banking issues. Consult your institution's attorney for special legal advice or assistance.