Florida Bankruptcy Exemptions

Laws which protect a debtor’s property when personal bankruptcy is filed in the state of Florida.

Article X,Section 4 of Florida Constitution:
SECTION 4. Homestead; exemptions.a) There shall be exempt from forced sale under process of any court, and no judgment, decree or execution shall be a lien thereon, except for the payment of taxes and assessments thereon, obligations contracted for the purchase, improvement or repair thereof, or obligations contracted for house, field or other labor performed on the realty, the following property owned by a natural person:

1. a homestead, if located outside a municipality, to the extent of one hundred sixty acres of contiguous land and improvements thereon, which shall not be reduced without the owner’s consent by reason of subsequent inclusion in a municipality; or if located within a municipality, to the extent of one-half acre of contiguous land, upon which the exemption shall be limited to the residence of the owner or the owner’s family
2. personal property to the value of one thousand dollars.

b) These exemptions shall inure to the surviving spouse or heirs of the owner. c) The homestead shall not be subject to devise if the owner is survived by spouse or minor child, except the homestead may be devised to the owner’s spouse if there be no minor child. The owner of homestead real estate, joined by the spouse if married, may alienate the homestead by mortgage, sale or gift and, if married, may by deed transfer the title to an estate by the entirety with the spouse. If the owner or spouse is incompetent, the method of alienation or encumbrance shall be as provided by law.222.01 Designation of homestead by owner before levy.
(1) Whenever any natural person residing in this state desires to avail himself or herself of the benefit of the provisions of the constitution and laws exempting property as a homestead from forced sale under any process of law, he or she may make a statement, in writing, containing a description of the real property, mobile home, or modular home claimed to be exempt and declaring that the real property, mobile home, or modular home is the homestead of the party in whose behalf such claim is being made. Such statement shall be signed by the person making it and shall be recorded in the circuit court.

222.02 Designation of homestead after levy.
Whenever a levy is made upon the lands, tenements, mobile home, or modular home of such person whose homestead has not been set apart and selected, such person, or the person’s agent or attorney, may in writing notify the officer making such levy, by notice under oath made before any officer of this state duly authorized to administer oaths, at any time before the day appointed for the sale thereof, of what such person regards as his or her homestead, with a description thereof; and the remainder only shall be subject to sale under such levy.

222.03 Survey at instance of dissatisfied creditor.
If the creditor in any execution or process sought to be levied is dissatisfied with the quantity of land selected and set apart, and shall himself or herself, or by his or her agent or attorney, notify the officer levying, the officer shall at the creditor’s request cause the same to be surveyed, and when the homestead is not within the corporate limits of any town or city, the person claiming said exemption shall have the right to set apart that portion of land belonging to him or her which includes the residence, or not, at the person’s option, and if the first tract or parcel does not contain 160 acres, the said officer shall set apart the remainder from any other tract or tracts claimed by the debtor, but in every case taking all the land lying contiguous until the whole quantity of 160 acres is made up. The person claiming the exemption shall not be forced to take as his or her homestead any tract or portion of a tract, if any defect exists in the title, except at the person’s option. The expense of such survey shall be chargeable on the execution as costs; but if it shall appear that the person claiming such exemption does not own more than 160 acres in the state, the expenses of said survey shall be paid by the person directing the same to be made.

222.05 Setting apart leasehold.
Any person owning and occupying any dwelling house, including a mobile home used as a residence, or modular home, on land not his or her own which he or she may lawfully possess, by lease or otherwise, and claiming such house, mobile home, or modular home as his or her homestead, shall be entitled to the exemption of such house, mobile home, or modular home from levy and sale as aforesaid.

222.11 Exemption of wages from garnishment.
(1) As used in this section, the term:

(a) “Earnings” includes compensation paid or payable, in money of a sum certain, for personal services or labor whether denominated as wages, salary, commission, or bonus.
(b) “Disposable earnings” means that part of the earnings of any head of family remaining after the deduction from those earnings of any amounts required by law to be withheld.
(c) “Head of family” includes any natural person who is providing more than one-half of the support for a child or other dependent.

(2) (a) All of the disposable earnings of a head of family whose disposable earnings are less than or equal to $500 a week are exempt from attachment or garnishment.

(b) Disposable earnings of a head of a family, which are greater than $500 a week, may not be attached or garnished unless such person has agreed otherwise in writing. In no event shall the amount attached or garnished exceed the amount allowed under the Consumer Credit Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. s. 1673.
(c) Disposable earnings of a person other than a head of family may not be attached or garnished in excess of the amount allowed under the Consumer Credit Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. s. 1673.

(3) Earnings that are exempt under subsection (2) and are credited or deposited in any financial institution are exempt from attachment or garnishment for 6 months after the earnings are received by the financial institution if the funds can be traced and properly identified as earnings. Commingling of earnings with other funds does not by itself defeat the ability of a head of family to trace earnings.222.13 Life insurance policies; disposition of proceeds.
(1) Whenever any person residing in the state shall die leaving insurance on his or her life, the said insurance shall inure exclusively to the benefit of the person for whose use and benefit such insurance is designated in the policy, and the proceeds thereof shall be exempt from the claims of creditors of the insured unless the insurance policy or a valid assignment thereof provides otherwise. Notwithstanding the foregoing, whenever the insurance, by designation or otherwise, is payable to the insured or to the insured’s estate or to his or her executors, administrators, or assigns, the insurance proceeds shall become a part of the insured’s estate for all purposes and shall be administered by the personal representative of the estate of the insured in accordance with the probate laws of the state in like manner as other assets of the insured’s estate.
(2) Payments as herein directed shall, in every such case, discharge the insurer from any further liability under the policy, and the insurer shall in no event be responsible for, or be required to see to, the application of such payments.

222.14 Exemption of cash surrender value of life insurance policies and annuity contracts from legal process.
The cash surrender values of life insurance policies issued upon the lives of citizens or residents of the state and the proceeds of annuity contracts issued to citizens or residents of the state, upon whatever form, shall not in any case be liable to attachment, garnishment or legal process in favor of any creditor of the person whose life is so insured or of any creditor of the person who is the beneficiary of such annuity contract, unless the insurance policy or annuity contract was effected for the benefit of such creditor.

222.18 Exempting disability income benefits from legal processes.
Disability income benefits under any policy or contract of life, health, accident, or other insurance of whatever form, shall not in any case be liable to attachment, garnishment, or legal process in the state, in favor of any creditor or creditors of the recipient of such disability income benefits, unless such policy or contract of insurance was effected for the benefit of such creditor or creditors.

222.21 Exemption of pension money and certain tax-exempt funds or accounts from legal processes.
(1) Money received by any debtor as pensioner of the United States within 3 months next preceding the issuing of an execution, attachment, or garnishment process may not be applied to the payment of the debts of the pensioner when it is made to appear by the affidavit of the debtor or otherwise that the pension money is necessary for the maintenance of the debtor’s support or a family supported wholly or in part by the pension money. The filing of the affidavit by the debtor, or the making of such proof by the debtor, is prima facie evidence; and it is the duty of the court in which the proceeding is pending to release all pension moneys held by such attachment or garnishment process, immediately, upon the filing of such affidavit or the making of such proof.
(2) (a) Except as provided in paragraph (d), any money or other assets payable to an owner, a participant, or a beneficiary from, or any interest of any owner, participant, or beneficiary in, a fund or account is exempt from all claims of creditors of the owner, beneficiary, or participant if the fund or account is:

1. Maintained in accordance with a master plan, volume submitter plan, prototype plan, or any other plan or governing instrument that has been preapproved by the Internal Revenue Service as exempt from taxation under s. 401(a), s. 403(a), s. 403(b), s. 408, s. 408A, s. 409, s. 414, s. 457(b), or s. 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, unless it has been subsequently determined that the plan or governing instrument is not exempt from taxation in a proceeding that has become final and nonappealable;
2. Maintained in accordance with a plan or governing instrument that has been determined by the Internal Revenue Service to be exempt from taxation under s. 401(a), s. 403(a), s. 403(b), s. 408, s. 408A, s. 409, s. 414, s. 457(b), or s. 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, unless it has been subsequently determined that the plan or governing instrument is not exempt from taxation in a proceeding that has become final and nonappealable; or
3. Not maintained in accordance with a plan or governing instrument described in subparagraph 1. or subparagraph 2. if the person claiming exemption under this paragraph proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the fund or account is maintained in accordance with a plan or governing instrument that:

a. Is in substantial compliance with the applicable requirements for tax exemption under s. 401(a), s. 403(a), s. 403(b), s. 408, s. 408A, s. 409, s. 414, s. 457(b), or s. 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended; or
b. Would have been in substantial compliance with the applicable requirements for tax exemption under s. 401(a), s. 403(a), s. 403(b), s. 408, s. 408A, s. 409, s. 414, s. 457(b), or s. 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, but for the negligent or wrongful conduct of a person or persons other than the person who is claiming the exemption under this section.
(b) It is not necessary that a fund or account that is described in paragraph (a) be maintained in accordance with a plan or governing instrument that is covered by any part of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act for money or assets payable from or any interest in that fund or account to be exempt from claims of creditors under that paragraph.
(c) Any money or other assets that are exempt from claims of creditors under paragraph (a) do not cease to qualify for exemption by reason of a direct transfer or eligible rollover that is excluded from gross income under s. 402(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
(d) Any fund or account described in paragraph (a) is not exempt from the claims of an alternate payee under a qualified domestic relations order or from the claims of a surviving spouse pursuant to an order determining the amount of elective share and contribution as provided in part II of chapter 732. However, the interest of any alternate payee under a qualified domestic relations order is exempt from all claims of any creditor, other than the Department of Revenue, of the alternate payee. As used in this paragraph, the terms “alternate payee” and “qualified domestic relations order” have the meanings ascribed to them in s. 414(p) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. (e) This subsection applies to any proceeding that is filed on or after the effective date of this act.

222.22 Exemption of assets in qualified tuition programs, medical savings accounts, Coverdell education savings accounts, and hurricane savings accounts from legal process.
(1) Moneys paid into or out of, the assets of, and the income of any validly existing qualified tuition program authorized by s. 529 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, including, but not limited to, the Florida Prepaid College Trust Fund advance payment contracts under s. 1009.98 and Florida Prepaid College Trust Fund participation agreements under s. 1009.981, are not liable to attachment, levy, garnishment, or legal process in the state in favor of any creditor of or claimant against any program participant, purchaser, owner or contributor, or program beneficiary.
(2) Moneys paid into or out of, the assets of, and the income of a health savings account or medical savings account authorized under ss. 220 and 223 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, are not liable to attachment, levy, garnishment, or legal process in this state in favor of any creditor of or claimant against any account participant, purchaser, owner or contributor, or account beneficiary.
(3) Moneys paid into or out of, the assets of, and the income of any Coverdell education savings account, also known as an educational IRA, established or existing in accordance with s. 530 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, are not liable to attachment, levy, garnishment, or legal process in this state in favor of any creditor of or claimant against any account participant, purchaser, owner or contributor, or account beneficiary.
(4) (a) Moneys paid into or out of, the assets of, and the income of any hurricane savings account established by an insurance policyholder for residential property in this state equal to twice the deductible sum of such insurance to cover an insurance deductible or other uninsured portion of the risks of loss from a hurricane, rising flood waters, or other catastrophic windstorm event are not liable to attachment, levy, garnishment, or legal process in this state in favor of any creditor of or claimant against any account participant, purchaser, owner or contributor, or account beneficiary.
(b) As used in this subsection, the term “hurricane savings account” means an account established by the owner of residential real estate in this state, which meets the requirements of homestead exemption under s. 4, Art. X of the State Constitution, who specifies that the purpose of the account is to cover the amount of insurance deductibles and other uninsured portions of risks of loss from hurricanes, rising flood waters, or other catastrophic windstorm events.
(c) This subsection shall take effect only when the federal government provides tax-exempt or tax-deferred status to a hurricane savings account, disaster savings account, or other similar account created to cover an insurance deductible or other uninsured portion of the risks of loss from a hurricane, rising flood waters, or other catastrophic windstorm event.

222.25 Other individual property of natural persons exempt from legal process.
The following property is exempt from attachment, garnishment, or other legal process:
(1) A debtor’s interest, not to exceed $1,000 in value, in a single motor vehicle as defined in s. 320.01.
(2) A debtor’s interest in any professionally prescribed health aids for the debtor or a dependent of the debtor.
(3) A debtor’s interest in a refund or a credit received or to be received, or the traceable deposits in a financial institution of a debtor’s interest in a refund or credit, pursuant to s. 32 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended. This exemption does not apply to a debt owed for child support or spousal support.
(4) A debtor’s interest in personal property, not to exceed $4,000, if the debtor does not claim or receive the benefits of a homestead exemption under s. 4, Art. X of the State Constitution. This exemption does not apply to a debt owed for child support or spousal support.

222.201 Availability of federal bankruptcy exemptions.
(1) Notwithstanding s. 222.20, an individual debtor under the federal Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 may exempt, in addition to any other exemptions allowed under state law, any property listed in subsection (d)(10) of s. 522 of that act.
(2) The provisions of this section apply to any bankruptcy action that is filed on or after October 1, 1987.

121.131 Benefits exempt from taxes and execution (state officers/employees).
The benefits accrued to any person under the provisions of this chapter and the accumulated contributions, securities, or other investments in the trust funds hereby created are exempt from any state, county, or municipal tax of the state and shall not be subject to assignment, execution, or attachment or to any legal process whatsoever.

122.15 Benefits exempt from taxes and execution (county officers/employees).
(1) The pensions, annuities, or any other benefits accrued or accruing to any person under the provisions of this chapter and the accumulated contributions and the cash securities in the funds created under this chapter are hereby exempted from any state, county or municipal tax of the state and shall not be subject to execution or attachment or to any legal process whatsoever and shall be unassignable.
(2) This subsection shall have no effect upon this section except that the department may, upon written request from the retired member, deduct premiums for group hospitalization insurance from the retirement benefit paid such retired member.

175.241 Exemption from tax and execution.
For any municipality, special fire control district, chapter plan, local law municipality, local law special fire control district, or local law plan under this chapter, the pensions, annuities, or other benefits accrued or accruing to any person under any chapter plan or local law plan under the provisions of this chapter and the accumulated contributions and the cash securities in the funds created under this chapter are hereby exempted from any state, county, or municipal tax and shall not be subject to execution or attachment or to any legal process whatsoever, and shall be unassignable.

185.25 Exemption from tax and execution (police officers).
For any municipality, chapter plan, local law municipality, or local law plan under this chapter, the pensions, annuities, or any other benefits accrued or accruing to any person under any municipality, chapter plan, local law municipality, or local law plan under the provisions of this chapter and the accumulated contributions and the cash securities in the funds created under this chapter are exempted from any state, county, or municipal tax of the state and shall not be subject to execution or attachment or to any legal process whatsoever and shall be unassignable.

238.15 Exemption of funds from taxation, execution, and assignment (teachers).
The pensions, annuities or any other benefits accrued or accruing to any person under the provisions of this chapter and the accumulated contributions and cash securities in the funds created under this chapter are exempted from any state, county or municipal tax of the state, and shall not be subject to execution or attachment or to any legal process whatsoever, and shall be unassignable, except:
(1) That any teacher who has retired shall have the right and power to authorize in writing the Department of Management Services to deduct from his or her monthly retirement allowance money for the payment of the premiums on group insurance for hospital, medical and surgical benefits, under a plan or plans for such benefits approved in writing by the Chief Financial Officer, and upon receipt of such request the department shall make the monthly payments as directed; and
(2) As may be otherwise specifically provided for in this chapter.

440.22 Assignment and exemption from claims of creditors (workers’ compensation).
No assignment, release, or commutation of compensation or benefits due or payable under this chapter except as provided by this chapter shall be valid, and such compensation and benefits shall be exempt from all claims of creditors, and from levy, execution and attachments or other remedy for recovery or collection of a debt, which exemption may not be waived. However, the exemption of workers’ compensation claims from creditors does not extend to claims based on an award of child support or alimony.

443.051 Benefits not alienable; exception, child support intercept.
(1) DEFINITIONS.–As used in this section:

(a) “Unemployment compensation” means any compensation payable under state law, including amounts payable pursuant to an agreement under any federal law providing for compensation, assistance, or allowances for unemployment.
(b) “Support obligations” includes only those obligations that are being enforced under a plan described in s. 454 of the Social Security Act which has been approved by the Secretary of Health and Human Services under Part D of Title IV of the Social Security Act. Support obligations include any legally required payments to reduce delinquencies, arrearages, or retroactive support.
(c) “Support order” means a judgment, decree, or order, whether temporary or final, issued by a court of competent jurisdiction or administrative agency for the support and maintenance of a child that provides for monetary support, health care, arrearages, or past support. When the child support obligation is being enforced by the Department of Revenue, the term “support order” also means a judgment, decree, or order, whether temporary or final, issued by a court of competent jurisdiction for the support and maintenance of a child and the spouse or former spouse of the obligor with whom the child is living that provides for monetary support, health care, arrearages, or past support.

(2) BENEFITS NOT ALIENABLE.–Except as provided in subsection (3), benefits due under this chapter may not be assigned, pledged, encumbered, released, or commuted and, except as otherwise provided in this chapter, are exempt from all claims of creditors and from levy, execution, or attachment, or other remedy for recovery or collection of a debt, which exemption may not be waived.
(3) EXCEPTION, SUPPORT INTERCEPT.—

(a) The Department of Revenue shall, at least biweekly, provide the Agency for Workforce Innovation with a magnetic tape or other electronic data file disclosing the individuals who owe support obligations and the amount of any legally required deductions.
(b) For support obligations established on or after July 1, 2006, and for support obligations established before July 1, 2006, when the support order does not address the withholding of unemployment compensation, the Agency for Workforce Innovation shall deduct and withhold 40 percent of the unemployment compensation otherwise payable to an individual disclosed under paragraph (a). If delinquencies, arrearages, or retroactive support are owed and repayment has not been ordered, the unpaid amounts are included in the support obligation and are subject to withholding. If the amount deducted exceeds the support obligation, the Department of Revenue shall promptly refund the amount of the excess deduction to the obligor. For support obligations in effect before July 1, 2006, if the support order addresses the withholding of unemployment compensation, the Agency for Workforce Innovation shall deduct and withhold the amount ordered by the court or administrative agency that issued the support order as disclosed by the Department of Revenue.
(c) The Agency for Workforce Innovation shall pay any amount deducted and withheld under paragraph (b) to the Department of Revenue.
(d) Any amount deducted and withheld under this subsection shall for all purposes be treated as if it were paid to the individual as unemployment compensation and paid by the individual to the Department of Revenue for support obligations.
(e) The Department of Revenue shall reimburse the Agency for Workforce Innovation for the administrative costs incurred by the agency under this subsection which are attributable to support obligations being enforced by the department.

632.619 Benefits not attachable.
No money or other benefit, charity, relief, or aid to be paid, provided, or rendered by any society, shall be subject to attachment, garnishment, or other process, nor seized, taken, appropriated, or applied by any legal or equitable process or operation of law to pay any debt or liability of a member or beneficiary, or any other person who may have a right thereunder, either before or after payment by the society.

744.626 Exemption of benefits from claims of creditors.
Except as provided by federal law, payments of benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or the Social Security Administration to or for the benefit of a disabled veteran or the veteran’s surviving spouse or dependents are exempt from the claims of creditors and shall not be liable to attachment, levy, or seizure by or under any legal or equitable process whatever, either before or after the receipt of the payments by the guardian or the beneficiary.

769.05 Proceeds of recovery for injuries exempt from garnishment and execution (damages to employees for hazardous occupations).
Writs of garnishment, execution or other processes, shall not issue out of any court to reach any money due or likely to become due as damages under the provisions of this chapter.

960.14 Manner of payment; execution or attachment (crime victims’ compensation).
(1) Any award made under this chapter shall be in accordance with the discretion and direction of the department as to the manner of payment. No award made pursuant to this chapter shall be subject to execution or attachment other than for expenses resulting from the injury or death which is the basis for the claim. In every case providing for compensation to a claimant under this chapter, the department may, if in its opinion the facts and circumstances of the case warrant it, convert the compensation to be paid into a partial or total lump sum without discount. Any eligible bills may be paid by the department directly to affected service providers.
(2) If a claimant owes money to the Crimes Compensation Trust Fund in connection with any other claim as provided for in ss. 938.03, 960.16, and 960.17, the amount owed shall be reduced from any award.
(3) The department may reconsider a claim at any time and modify or rescind previous orders for compensation, based upon a change in circumstances of a victim or intervenor.
(4) Payment made to a service provider will be considered payment in full for the services rendered to the victim by said provider. In the event a provider does not accept the payment as payment in full, then that payment may be made to the claimant.

Note: While this reference information is current as of August 2010, it may not reflect the most up-to-date exemption figures on official state of Florida bankruptcy court statutes.

Back to State of Florida exemption summary
Back to Exemptions by State

*The use of partners trademarks are not intended to imply endorsement of these products.

 

 

Ready to Start? Call us at 1(888)214-7773