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Surfside bankruptcy attorney asset protection

Everyone’s biggest fear with filing for bankruptcy is losing everything -- your house, vehicles, savings, and more. What many do not know is that filing for bankruptcy does not mean that everything is taken away from you. There are a number of exemptions that Florida allows its residents to keep their assets even after filing for bankruptcy. In order to classify for such exemptions, you must be a Florida resident, not a recently relocated individual. You must have lived in Florida for the past two years to qualify, and if not, you will have to follow your previous state’s exemption requirements. Although it is always best to consult with a bankruptcy lawyer, you should be aware of possible exemptions available to you.

Homestead Exemption

If you are a Florida homeowner, you will likely be able to keep your home after filing for bankruptcy. Most states limit the amount of equity you can have in your house, but Florida is slightly more lenient. As long as you bought and have owned your property 1,215 days (a little less than 3.5 years) before filing, and your property does not exceed a half-acre in size, you qualify for Florida’s homestead exemption.

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Miami bankruptcy attorney homestead exemption

If your home or property is considered a “homestead,” there are numerous legal protections available to you. It is important to know the qualifications of a homestead if you are a Florida resident. For example, the benefits can save you thousands of dollars each year, as well as protect your home if you are on the verge of bankruptcy. In order to apply for homestead exemption, you must have the legal or beneficial title to your home on January 1 of the year in question. So, if you applied this year, you must have had the title by January 1, 2020. You must also permanently reside at this home—those with Florida vacation homes do not apply. The application for homestead exemption must be submitted between January 1 and March 1 at the property appraiser’s office in your respective county. This application need only be done once, as the homestead status will remain active unless you inform the property appraiser’s office otherwise.

Creditor Protection

If you find yourself in a significant amount of debt, you may be considering filing for bankruptcy. You likely feel pressured by your waiting creditors to sell your home and provide them with the proceeds to pay off your cumulative debts. While selling your home is an option, Florida law states that you cannot be forced to sell your home to pay off a debt if you are sued by a creditor. If you live in an unincorporated area, you can protect your home and up to half an acre of land from any forced sale. This protection also extends to anyone who inherits your home or property after you pass away. You should note that this homestead protection does not apply to those facing foreclosure, contractors’ liens, or past-due association fees. You may also be forced to sell your property in order to collect late property taxes.

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