When a debtor files for bankruptcy they must list all of their assets and their debts on the bankruptcy petition (the paperwork filed with the court). When the debtor lists their assets on the petition they must also protect their assets using the applicable bankruptcy exemptions. Exemptions are laws that enable a debtor to protect certain assets from the bankruptcy court. Each state has their own exemption laws that a debtor can use. Debtors filing for bankruptcy in Florida will most likely have to use Florida Exemptions. Below is a list of the most common bankruptcy exemptions used by Florida bankruptcy debtors:
Homestead Bankruptcy Exemptions (Primary Home)
This exemption can be used to protect the equity of up to 160 acres of connected land outside of the city (rural land) or one half of land and your house (if in the city). Florida has no exemption for additional real estate (vacation/investment home) or vacant land.
Motor Vehicle Bankruptcy Exemptions (Cars)
A debtor is allowed to exempt $1,000 worth of equity in vehicles they own. If a debtor leases vehicles then they will not need to exempt the leased vehicle.
Life Insurance Proceeds Bankruptcy Exemptions
Under this exemption a debtor can protect a payment under a life insurance contract that insured the life of an individual of whom you were a dependent, to the extent reasonably necessary for your support or the support of your dependent(s).
Qualified Retirement Plan Bankruptcy Exemptions (401k or Pensions)
We can prevent creditors from touching the proceeds of your hard-earned retirement plan. This exemption can be used to exempt anything from stock bonuses, pensions, profit sharing plans and annuities as long as we determine that your savings are in a qualified retirement plan.
Unemployment Compensation Benefits Bankruptcy Exemptions
Any debtor who is currently unemployed and receiving unemployment compensation can exempt the unemployment compensation they receive from the reach of their creditors.
Worker’s Compensation Bankruptcy Exemptions This bankruptcy exemption can be used protect 100% of compensation you receive under Florida workers’ compensation laws. We can protect both 100% of your wages and 100% of the award you receive to compensate you for any permanent disability. In Florida, workers’ compensation cases are 100% exempt.
Personal Property Bankruptcy Exemptions (Any Personal Property of Debtor)
The personal property exemption allows the debtor to protect up to $1,000 of any type of personal property they own.
Additional Wildcard Bankruptcy Exemption (non-homestead)
Any debtor that is not claiming a homestead (home exemption) will be allowed to use an additional $4,000 wildcard exemption to protect any assets they want.
As you can see above there are no specific bankruptcy exemptions for such items as bank accounts, clothing, furniture, jewelry, or any other possessions that a debtor may own. All of those assets that a debtor owns can only be exempted by using the personal property of the wildcard exemptions. There are other bankruptcy exemptions available to joint debtors however you should speak to your local bankruptcy attorney for information on those.
If you are thinking of filing for bankruptcy and would like to schedule a free consultation with a local bankruptcy lawyer then please contact Shmucher Law, PL by calling 305.741.5553 or 954.309.5559.
Shmucher Law, PL, a bankruptcy law firm, represents debtors, creditors, and trustees in bankruptcy matters throughout Broward and Miami-Dade counties.