Bankruptcy can be an excellent means of restoring one’s financial security, but the potential loss of property can make it unappealing to many. Thankfully, Florida offers many exemptions under both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy which allow filers to hold on to property. However, it is important to note that Florida bankruptcy filers are not permitted to utilize the federal exemptions for bankruptcy. That is not to say this is a disadvantage for Florida residents – the exemptions provided by the state are unlimited and cover a variety of property types.
Whose Exemptions Are They Anyway?
In order to benefit from these exemptions, the filer must have been a Florida resident for a minimum of 730 days before beginning the filing process. Given that many who call Florida home also have residency in another state, whether the Florida exemption can be utilized will depend on whether the filer resided in Florida more than in the other location during the 180 days which proceeded the two years prior to his filing.
The Homestead Exemption
Florida’s homestead exemption can be applied to a home’s value without limitation, permitted the property does not exceed 160 acres, or half an acre located in a municipality. The home must be owned by the filer for 1,215 days before filing in order to have its full value exempted.
For a filer with head of family status, wages are given exemptions for $750 per week. The exempted amount can come from both paid and unpaid wages, as well as those deposited into the filer’s bank account within six months of filing. Wage exemptions can also be applied to pensions. For instance, pensions of federal government employees are covered if they were distributed three months prior to filing. Exemptions are also granted for the pensions of state/county employees and officers, firefighters, police officers and teachers. Additionally, benefits distributed through the Florida Retirement System and ERISA retirement plans can also be exempted. For IRA’s and Roth IRA’s, exemptions can be applied for up to $1,171,650.
When considering vehicle exemptions for Florida bankruptcy filers, marital status plays a key role. For single filers, $1,000 in equity is able to be claimed. However, if the filer is married, up to $2,000 can be claimed in vehicle equity. If a married couple is filing separately, additional equity may be available to claim. In the event that the car has more equity available than these exemption guidelines permit for a claim, personal property exemptions can be a means of holding on to the extra equity.
Exemptions for Personal Property
A Florida filer may use an exemption for furniture, art and electronics which are valued up to $1,000. Certain types of savings also qualify for a personal property exemption, such as savings for education, health and hurricanes. Prepaid deposits for medical savings accounts, as well as prescribed health aids, are also afforded bankruptcy exemptions. A wildcard exemption can also be applied for up $4,000 for personal property, granted the filer did not utilize the homestead exemption.
There are many exemptions in addition to the four aforementioned available to Florida bankruptcy filers. Some of these include exemptions for public benefits, alimony, child support, insurance policies, and personal injury. It will depend on the filer’s specific situation which exemptions are most beneficial to claim.
If you are planning to file bankruptcy in Florida, it is in your best interest to seek out the expertise of a West Palm Beach bankruptcy attorney. The team at Kelley & Fulton is always available to answer your most pressing bankruptcy questions. Call today to learn about your options.