Bankruptcy allows people who owe more money than they can repay to either pay off a portion of their debt over time by filing a Chapter 13 petition, or request that the court forgive their entire debt by filing a Chapter 7 petition. Bankruptcy trustees may also liquidate debtors’ assets to pay off debts. However, items such as family heirlooms, furniture, clothing, jewelry, artwork, household items and more may qualify as an exemption. Florida law provides a list of the amount and type of property you can exempt. You may also take advantage of federal law exemptions.
A limit applies to exemptions on the equity you own in the property. You can calculate the equity by subtracting the value of the property from the amount you owe on the property. For example, if you own a car worth $5,000 and your loan is $4,500, then you have $500 equity.
As long as you are current on your secured loan payments, the equity is covered under the exemption and you can keep your property. Any equity not covered by an exemption may be subject to liquidation by the trustee.
Some of the exemptions allowed under Florida law include:
- Homestead exemptions — Real or personal property to unlimited value
- Insurance exemptions — Proceeds from an annuity contract, death and disability benefits, and life insurance up to cash surrender value
- Pension exemptions — Includes most types of pensions
- Personal property exemptions — Amounts up to $1,000 (or $2,000 for a couple); motor vehicle up to $1,000
- Miscellaneous exemptions — Includes alimony, child support and damages paid to employees for hazardous job injuries
- Public benefits exemptions — Includes Social Security, VA benefits, crime victims’ compensation and others
- Wages — $100 for heads of family up to $500 per week
This list does not include all available exemptions. To learn more, you should consult a qualified bankruptcy attorney.