For Jacksonville Bankruptcies, individuals filing bankruptcy are permitted to keep certain amounts of property pursuant to the “Florida Exemptions“. One of these pieces of property is their Homestead.
Article X § 4 of the Florida Constitution prevents a home of up to 1/2 acre within a municipality or 160 acres outside a municipality from being forced to sale by anyone except those holding liens for taxes, mortgages, mechanics and the like. This protection is one of the most liberal in the United States Bankruptcy Courts and has lead to the relocation of celebrities such as Oj Simpson who homesteaded property to avoid the loss of otherwise obtainable assets. Due to the quick relocation of people like Simpson, Florida now requires a person to own the property at least 1215 days (about 3.3 years) to exempt the entire value of equity in the home.
A new case, In re Gentry rules that even when a debtor initially states that they intend to abandon their homestead at the date of filing, they can later change their mind by filing an amendment and keep the home. Originally it was thought that the debtor’s intention on the date of filing is what controlled this issue, but the Tampa court stated that Florida Homestead protection is so widespread and liberal that the debtor can change their mind mid-bankruptcy. The question that remains unanswered is just how far into a bankruptcy a debtor would be to be “too late”.
If you have questions about the homestead exemption or would like to know if your home would be protected from creditors, contact a Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney or call us at (904) 685-1200 for a free consultation.