The most common type of bankruptcy proceeding for individuals is called a Chapter 7. In this type of case, most debts are discharged and eliminated. Debts that are not dischargeable are those where you want to keep the property on which there is a lien, such a house with a mortgage or a car with a loan.
In order to qualify for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you must pass the “means test”. This is a formula that determines whether your income is low enough to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your income is too high, then you will need to consider other alternatives, such as a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Chapter 13 is a repayment plan or individual reorganization bankruptcy. A Chapter 13 is like a court-enforced repayment plan, which creditors must accept. Depending on your income, you will be in a 3 or 5 year plan.
In Florida, the exemption laws are very broad and allow indebted individuals to keep much of their property. These are most of the Florida exemptions:
- 100% of your wages if you are the head of household
- $1000 personal property (this includes bank accounts, cash, jewelry, clothes, etc.)
- $1000 value of a car
- Unlimited value of your homestead (you must have lived in the home for the past 1215 days-about 31/2 years)
- Retirement accounts such as an IRA and 401(k)
- Educational savings accounts
- Certain life insurance and annuities
- Property owned jointly with your spouse, if your spouse is not filing
To learn more about whether you are qualified to eliminate your debts and what property you can keep, contact the Law Office of Debra G. Simms.