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Florida Economy:

Washington has seen the job market increase by 1.8% over the last year. Future job growth over the next ten years is predicted to be 33.7%, which is higher than the US average of 33.5%.

Location of Florida Bankruptcy Courts:

Southern District of Florida:

Miami West Palm Beach
C. Clyde Atkins United States Courthouse 
301 North Miami Avenue, Room 150 
Miami, Florida 33128 
(305) 714-1800

Fort Lauderdale
United States Courthouse
299 East Broward Blvd., Room 112
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301
(954) 769-5700

Flagler Waterview Building
North Flagler Drive, Suite 801
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
 (561) 514-4100

 

Middle District of Florida

Orlando
US Bankruptcy Court
400 W. Washington Street
Suite 5100
Orlando, FL 32801

Jacksonville
Bryan Simpson United States Courthouse
300 North Hogan St.
Suite 3-150
Jacksonville, FL 32202
(904)301-6490

Tampa
Sam M. Gibbons United States Courthouse
801 N. Florida Avenue
Suite 555
Tampa, Florida 33602
Main Line: (813) 301-5162

Fort Meyers
US Bankruptcy Court
2110 First Street
Fort Meyers FL 33901
(813) 301-5162

Northern District of Florida

Tallahassee
United States Bankruptcy Courthouse
110 East Park Avenue, Suite 100
Tallahassee, FL 32301

Gainesville
United States Courthouse
401 SE First Ave
Gainesville, FL 32601

Pensacola
Winston E. Arnow Federal Building
100 N. Palafox St.
Pensacola, FL 32502

Panama City
(Courthouse closed due to damage from hurricane)

Florida Bankruptcy Exemptions:

Florida's Homestead Exemption

Florida has one of the most generous homestead exemptions in the country. You can exempt an unlimited amount of equity in your home or other property covered by the homestead exemption as long as the property isn’t larger than half an acre in a municipality or 160 acres elsewhere.

Before claiming the homestead exemption in Florida, you must have owned the property for at least 1,215 days before the bankruptcy filing. If you can’t meet this requirement, your homestead exemption is limited by federal law. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 222.01-02)

You can learn more about this requirement and the current amount of the federal cap in The Homestead Exemption.

Florida Personal Property Exemptions

The following categories of personal property (anything other than real estate) are exempt:

  • Personal property up to $1,000. Personal property can include such items as furniture, art, and electronics, and $4,000 if the homestead exemption isn’t used (see the wildcard exemption below). (Art. 10 Sec. 4, Fl. Constitution)
  • Education savings, health savings, and hurricane savings. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 222.22)
  • Prescribed health aids. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 222.25)
  • Prepaid medical savings account and health savings account deposits (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 222.22(2))
  • Tax credits and refunds (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 222.25(3))
  • Funeral costs per Florida’s Preneed Funeral Contract Consumer Protection Trust Fund (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 497.456)
  • Particular partnership property (Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 620.153, 620.8307)

Florida Motor Vehicle Exemption

You can exempt up to $1,000 in motor vehicle equity. This amount increases if you’re married and filing jointly. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 222.25(1))

Exemptions for Wages in Florida

Wages of a head of the family are entirely exempt up to $750 per week, or the 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 six months. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 222.11.) Earnings of a person other than the head of the family are protected as follows: 75% or 30 times the federal minimum wage, whichever is greater.

Federal government employees’ pension payments needed for support and were received up to three months before the bankruptcy are also exempt. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 222.21.)

The Florida Wildcard Exemption

A debtor can claim up to $4,000 of personal property if the debtor doesn’t use the homestead exemption. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 222.25.)

Exemptions for Pensions in Florida

The following types of pensions and retirement funds are exempt in Florida:

  • ERISA qualified retirement plans and pensions (including 401(k)’s, 403(b)’s, profit sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRA’s, and other defined benefit plans) are fully exempt. (11 U.S.C. Section 522; Fla. Stat. Ann. § 222.21.) (To learn more, see Your Retirement Plan in Bankruptcy.)
  • Public employee retirement benefits. (Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 121.131, 121.055(6)(e).)
  • State and County officers and employees retirement system benefits. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 122.15.)
  • Firefighter pensions. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 175.241.)
  • Municipal police pensions. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 185.25.)
  • Teachers’ retirement benefits. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 238.15.)

Exemptions for Public Benefits

You can exempt the following public benefits:

  • Veterans benefits, social security benefits, reemployment assistance, and local public assistance benefits. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 222.201)
  • Workers compensation and unemployment compensation benefits are exempt. (Fl. Stat. §§ 222.201, 443.052, 440.22.)
  • Crime victims’ compensation benefits are exempt unless the debtor is seeking to discharge debt for treatment of a related injury. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 960.14.)

Alimony and Child Support Exemptions

Alimony and child support, to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor (the bankruptcy filer) and any dependent of the debtor, are exempt. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 222.201.)

Exemptions for Insurance Policies and Annuities

You can exempt the following:

  • The proceeds of a life insurance policy payable to a specific beneficiary. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 222.13.)
  • The cash surrender value of a life insurance policy and the proceeds of an annuity contract, however, annuity proceeds resulting from lottery winnings aren’t exempt. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 222.14.)
  • Disability income benefits. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 222.18.)
  • Fraternal benefit society benefits. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 632.619.)

Personal Injury and Lawsuit Exemptions

Damages (money) for an employee’s injuries or death that occurred while working in a hazardous occupation are exempt. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 769.05.) However, any other proceeds received from a lawsuit or pending legal claim belongs to the bankruptcy estate, and you’ll have to use another exemption, such as the wildcard exemption, to protect the recovery.

Also, if you haven’t resolved the lawsuit when you file for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee can decide whether to retain an attorney and proceed on your behalf. The trustee will then decide whether to settle the case or proceed to trial.

Example. In your paperwork, you disclose the minor rear-end accident you were involved in six months before. Even though you weren’t at fault, you didn’t bother pursuing it because your injuries resolved quickly. The bankruptcy trustee has the option of pursuing the claim on your behalf against the driver at fault.

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