When a debtor files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida they are allowed to exempt certain assets. Exemptions are protections used on assets, that protect/prohibit the bankruptcy court from taking away the assets from you. Here is a quick breakdown on exemptions in Florida:
Own a Home:
$1,000 in anything you own
$1,000 in a vehicle
Don’t own a Home:
$5,000 in anything you own
$1,000 in a car
So say for example you qualify and want to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy but your assets exceed the exempted amounts. Here is an illustration.
Vehicle worth $10,000, all other goods worth $1,000.
In this case when you use your exemptions you can exempt the following:
Vehicle: $1,000 (vehicle exemption) plus ($4,000 left over) for a total of $5,000.
In this case if the debtor chooses to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy then their car will be OVER the exemption limit by $5,000. So here is what they can do if they file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Buy back the asset:
If the debtor is over exemptions then the trustee will give the debtor to buy back the asset in two different fashions.
One Time Payment:
First the debtor can make a one-time payment to keep the asset. This usually requires the debtor to have a friend or family member be willing to contribute the required amount to purchase the asset. Usually if the debtor agrees to a one-time payment , then the trustee will probably give a 10% discount on the amount to be paid. In the case above the trustee will likely allow the debtor to keep the vehicle with a one-time payment of $4,500, usually due 10 days after the meeting of the creditors.
A debtor who cannot provide for a one-time payment may be able to setup a monthly repayment plan with the trustee. There is no guarantee that a trustee would be willing to do a monthly repayment plan (be warned), however if the trustee agrees to a monthly repayment plan it will likely not exceed three to six months.
Therefore if you are contemplating filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and your assets exceed the allowed exemptions then don’t think that Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the only option for you. If you are able to come up with the money that you are over exemptions then you may be able to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and keep your assets.
If you are thinking of filing for bankruptcy and would like to schedule a free consultation with a Florida bankruptcy lawyer then please contact Shmucher Law, PL at 954.309.5559 or 305.741.5553. We offer free consultations in any of our office locations including Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Plantation and Sunrise, Florida.