When you are facing extreme debt, you might feel that all is lost, but you do have rights. You can’t go to jail for failing to pay a debt or a judgment, but if you don’t pay the debt, your credit score will be affected. This can affect your life for up to seven years. If a judgment is obtained against you, it can last up to 20 years. This means the person who obtained the judgment on you can collect on it until it’s fully paid for up to 20 years after it is filed with the clerk and recorded. On top of this, interest accrues on the debt. There are exemptions that you can obtain.
What is the Florida Homestead Exemption?
The Florida homestead exemption allows the primary residence to be protected from creditors. The homestead exemption can also be claimed by the spouse or children of a deceased owner. There are some requirements.
- You must have been a Florida resident for 40 months or more
- The property is not larger than ½ acre in a municipality or 160 acres elsewhere
- The property must be your primary residence: not a second home, rental, or vacation property
What Qualifies As Exempt Property in Florida?
Certain personal property categories are exempt in Florida:
- Personal property up to $1,000. This can include furniture, art, and electronics. If the homestead exemption isn’t used, the limit is $4,000
- Education savings, health savings, and hurricane savings
- Prescribed health aids
- Prepaid medical savings account and health savings account deposits
- Tax credits and refunds
- Funeral costs
- Particular partnership property
How Much Vehicle Equity Can Be Exempted in Bankruptcy?
A single person can exempt up to $1,000 in motor vehicle equity in bankruptcy. If you’re married and filing jointly the amount increases.
How Much Are Your Wages Protected In Bankruptcy?
The head of the family’s wages is entirely exempt up to $750 per week, or greater of 75% or 30 times the federal minimum wage. This applies to paid and unpaid wages as well as wages deposited in a bank account during the last 6 months.
If you are not the head of the family, your wages are protected to the greater of 75% or 30 times the federal minimum wage. Federal government employee pension payments needed for support and received up to three months before bankruptcy are also exempt.
There are Bankruptcy Exemptions To Some Pension Funds.
These pensions and retirement funds are exempt in Florida:
- Tax-exempt retirement accounts
- Public employee retirement benefits
- State and County officers and employees retirement system benefits
- Firefighter pensions
- Municipal police pensions
- Teacher’s retirement benefits
What Benefit Exemptions Are There in Public Benefits?
Also eligible for exemption are:
- Veteran’s benefits
- Social Security benefits
- Reemployment assistance
- Local public assistance
- Worker’s Compensation
- Crime victim’s compensation, unless the debtor seeks to discharge debt for treatment of a related injury
Is Alimony and Child Support Exempt from Bankruptcy?
To the extent reasonable and needed for the debtor’s support and any dependent of the debtor, alimony and child support are exempt.
What Insurance Policies and Annuities Are Exempt In Bankruptcy?
Various policies and annuities are exempt, including:
- Proceeds of a life insurance policy payable to a specific beneficiary
- Cash surrender of a life insurance policy and the proceeds of an annuity contract. Annuity from lottery winnings is not exempt.
- Disability income benefits
- Fraternal benefits society benefits
Are Personal Injury and Lawsuits Exempt in bankruptcy Claims?
Damages for employee injury or death from a hazardous occupation are exempt, but other proceeds received or any pending legal claim belongs to the bankruptcy estate. You would need to use another exemption to protect that.