Exemptions In Florida Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
If you’ve ever considered filing for bankruptcy, you may have heard stories about having all of your earthly possessions taken away. While it’s true that you will necessarily be parting with a number of things, it’s also true that the law allows you to protect certain property. Bankruptcy is such a huge undertaking: do you really want to go forward based on the bits and pieces you hear from friends and family? Perhaps it would be better to get a frank and factual assessment of your situation from someone who knows the law. At the Law Office of Julia Kefalinos, we deal with bankruptcy situations every day. We can give you the answers you need to make a sound decision moving forward.
Chapter 7 Liquidation
Please understand that in Florida, you are not allowed the federal exemptions in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. That being said, there are some assets that may be covered under state exemption laws.
The Homestead Exemption
Under Florida law, you are able to protect your home and its equity in a Chapter 7 filing if it is on a half-acre or less of municipal land, or 160 acres outside a municipality. This is only if you’ve owned the property for at least 1,215—about three and one-third years– days prior to filing for bankruptcy. However, any property listed under the name of a partnership, LLC, or corporation doesn’t qualify for these protections.
If You Don’t Own a Home
For those filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy but who do not qualify for the homestead exemption, there is a personal property exemption of $4,000 available for individual filers, and $8,000 for those filing jointly. Sometimes called the wildcard exemption, this allows filers to pick and choose specific property they wish to have held exempt.
Personal property exemptions to the tune of $1,000 are allowed ($4,000 if you don’t use the homestead exemption) and that could be applied to bank accounts that are not connected to retirement accounts, vehicles, and any other property outside your house.
There are other exemptions for health savings, education savings and hurricane savings, prescribed aids related to your health, prepaid medical accounts, funeral costs, certain partnership properties, and tax credits or refunds. Retirement, IRA’s, and ERISA benefits are also protected.
Heads of household are allowed to keep 75 percent of their wages or $750 weekly, whichever is higher. Benefits like social security, worker’s comp., and veteran’s benefits are also protected, along with child support, alimony, and other specific benefits.
Since it is likely that most people will need a vehicle, you are allowed $1,000 for a vehicle exemption, and double that if you file jointly. Vehicle equity is based on Kelly Blue Book valuations.
Getting it From a Straight Shooter
The knowledgeable Miami bankruptcy attorneys at The Law Office of Julia Kefalinos will tell you: bankruptcy is no picnic. But it may not be as horrendous as you imagine, either. Get the straight scoop by scheduling a confidential consultation in our office today.