Understanding Consumer Bankruptcy Exemptions in Florida
Are you thinking about filing for consumer bankruptcy? Are you struggling with insurmountable debt and wondering whether Chapter 7 bankruptcy could help you to get a fresh start? Many consumers in the Orlando area grapple with debt and wonder whether they should consider filing for personal bankruptcy. However, many consumers also are under the misconception that Chapter 7 bankruptcy will result in the loss of all belongings and assets. While Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a “liquidation bankruptcy,” meaning that a debtor’s assets are liquidated in order to repay creditors and allow the debtor to receive a discharge, it is important to understand that not all of a debtor’s property is liquidated.
Both federal and Florida state bankruptcy exemptions exist. Florida law requires debtors to use the Florida exemptions, and these exemptions permit debtors to retain certain types and amounts of property when the debtor files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Florida’s Bankruptcy Exemptions
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida as a consumer, and you meet certain residency requirements, you are eligible to have certain property exempt from liquidation. This is where the Florida bankruptcy exemptions come in. There are numerous exemptions that can allow individuals and families in the Orlando area to keep important assets, including the family home in most situations. The following are some of the most common bankruptcy exemptions that people in Orlando rely upon when filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy:
- Homestead exemption: Florida’s homestead exemption is among the most generous in the country. It allows a debtor who is filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to exempt an unlimited amount of equity in his or her home assuming that the property is not larger than half an acre within a municipality or 160 acres outside a municipality. Accordingly, if the property is paid off, the debtor can exempt all of the equity in the home and keep the home even though she or he is seeking a liquidation bankruptcy.
- Motor vehicle exemption: You can exempt up to $1,000 equity in a motor vehicle.
- Personal property exemption: Florida debtors can exempt up to $1,000 of personal property of their choosing, aside from real property. The personal property can include, for example, furniture, clothing, collectibles, and other personal belongings.
- Wildcard exemption: Debtors can exempt up to $4,000 of personal property of their choosing if they do not use the homestead exemption.
- Certain savings accounts: Health savings accounts (HSAs), education savings accounts, and hurricane savings accounts are exempt.
- Wages: A debtor who files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can exempt up to $750 per week or 75 percent of 30 times the federal minimum wage if that person is the head of household.
- Retirement accounts: ERISA-qualified retirement plans, pensions, public employee benefits, government employee benefits, firefighter pensions, municipal police pensions, teacher retirement benefits, and other types of retirement and pensions plans are exempt.
- Public benefits: Veterans’ benefits, Social Security benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment benefits, and other types of public benefits are exempt.
Contact an Orlando Bankruptcy Lawyer
As you can see, Florida bankruptcy exemptions allow debtors to exempt many different types and amounts of property in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. If you need help filing for bankruptcy, you should speak with an Orlando bankruptcy Chapter 7 attorney today. Contact Anderson & Ferrin for more information.