Individual consumer debtors are typically allowed to keep the following items, even after the bankruptcy filing. Please note this list is not all-inclusive. Certain facts in each individual case may allow for additional exemptions or place limitations on the exemptions listed below:
- Homestead – Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution protects the home from all claims of creditors, judgments or even the bankruptcy trustee. The only exceptions to this rule are mortgages or consensual liens, taxes or work performed on the home for which a mechanic’s lien has been filed or if the homestead was obtained through the use of fraudulently obtained funds.
- Personal property – Florida allows each individual debtor to retain $1,000.00 of personal property (or $2,000.00 per married couple). If the debtor does not own or receive the benefits of a homestead, this exemption increases to $5,000.00 per individual (or $10,000.00 per married couple).
- Automobiles – Each individual debtor is entitled to $1,000.00 equity in an automobile. Leased automobiles are typically not considered as property of a bankruptcy estate because the bankruptcy trustee is unable to liquidate this asset.
- IRA’s – These are exempt to an unlimited amount.
- Cash surrender value of life insurance or annuities – These are exempt to an unlimited amount.
- Florida Prepaid Tuition Plans – These are exempt to an unlimited amount.
- Separately owned property – If an individual person files bankruptcy and his or her spouse does not, the spouse’s property is exempt from the claims of creditors. Florida also recognizes a special exemption for jointly owned property where only one spouse has debts. This is called “tenants by the entireties”.