If Florida exemption law applies to your bankruptcy, the following are the principle bankruptcy exemptions under Florida law.
1. Homestead. Your homestead is exempt property under Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution. This protection is afforded homestead properties situated on one-half acre or less within a municipality and properties up to 160 acres outside a municipality. There is no dollar limitation. The homestead exemption applies to all Florida residents. The new bankruptcy law does not affect homestead protection for Florida residents in state court proceedings.
The new bankruptcy law does change the homestead exemption for Florida residents who file bankruptcy. Under the new law you can protect unlimited equity
in your homestead provided you purchased the residence 40 months or more prior to filing bankruptcy. If you purchased your home within 40 months the new law exempts up to $137,000 of equity. The exemption amount is increased (effective April, 2007) from the original $125,000 to approximatley $137,000 per person. Additionally, if you injected excess cash in your home within the 40 months, such as by paying down the mortgage or building a home addition, the amount of investment made within the 40 months will not be exempt even if you purchased the home 40 months prior to filing. The $137,000 homestead exemption limit applies only in bankruptcy cases. Several courts have held that a married couple filing jointly can claim two homestead exemptions for a total homestead protection of $274,000.
2. Statutory Exemptions Chapter 222 of the Florida Statutes includes several categories of exempt property, including: pensions
, 401K plans, tax deferred retirement plans, Social Security income, disability
income, IRAs, annuities, cash value of life insurance, college investment plans (including 529 Plans), health savings accounts, and hurricane savings accounts.
3. Automobile Exemption: You are allowed to exempt $1,000 of equity in an automobile. Spouses who jointly own a car may exempt $2,000 of value in that car. Most bankruptcy trustees
accept the average retail/wholesale value from the yellow NADA book, adjusted for the condition of your car. If the balance of your car loan is greater than the car value (“upside down”) then you have no car equity and your car is protected in bankruptcy so long as you keep your car payments current.
4. Miscellaneous personal property exemption. Each bankruptcy debtor is allowed to exempt $1,000 ($2,000 for joint filings) of all other personal property including furniture, cloths, tools, and estimated cash on hand. For bankruptcy purposes the value of your personal property is its current fair market value at a public market such as a garage sale or flea market sale. A new Florida statute effective July 1, 2007, provides a $4,000 "wildcard" personal property exemption to bankruptcy debtors who do not claim a homestead exemption. You must not own a home or intend to surrender the home you do own to the mortgage lender in order to qualifiy for the wildcard exemption. Joint debtors can claim a $8,000 wildcard exemption.
You meet a bankruptcy trustee after you file bankruptcy. The trustee has 30 days following your meeting to object to your exemptions. If you claim an asset as exempt on your bankruptcy petition
and there is no objection within 30 days after your trustee meeting you may assume the asset is exempt and you may do whatever you want with th