Bankruptcy helps Floridians struggling with overwhelming debt to get a fresh start financially. One of the factors that affects how bankruptcy works is the state where the person or business files for bankruptcy. Different states have different laws and rules regarding bankruptcy, such as the types and amounts of property that can be exempted from creditors, the eligibility requirements for different chapters of bankruptcy and the procedures and costs involved in filing for bankruptcy.
Exempt property and nonexempt property
Exempt property is property that is protected from creditors and does not have to be sold or surrendered to pay off debts in bankruptcy. The types and amounts of property that can be exempted vary by state and by chapter of bankruptcy.
Florida has some of the most generous exemption laws in the country, especially when it comes to homestead property. Homestead property is the primary residence of the debtor or the debtor’s family. In Florida, homestead property is fully exempt from creditors, regardless of its value, as long as it meets certain size and ownership requirements.
This means that a debtor can keep their home in bankruptcy, even if it is worth millions of dollars, as long as it is located on half an acre or fewer within a municipality, or 160 acres or fewer outside a municipality and as long as the debtor has owned it for at least 1,215 days before filing for bankruptcy.
Other types of exempt property
Florida also exempts other types of property, like household appliances, furniture and furnishings in the debtor’s home cannot exceed $20,000 in value. Two motor vehicles can also be exempted, as long as each vehicle weighs no more than 15,000 pounds, and the vehicles were owned and regularly used by the debtor or members of the debtor’s family as their personal motor vehicles for transportation.
Some personal property can be exempted too (up to $4,000), if the debtor does not claim a homestead exemption. Finally, certain retirement accounts, pensions, annuities, life insurance policies, disability benefits, wages and income and public benefits can qualify too.
Nonexempt property in Florida
Nonexempt property in Florida is any property that does not fall under any of the exemption categories or exceeds the exemption limits. Nonexempt property may have to be sold or surrendered in Chapter 7 bankruptcy or may affect the amount of repayment in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.