Many people want to know the residency requirements to qualify for bankruptcy, and our Jacksonville bankruptcy lawyers can help. While your residency does not decide whether you can file for bankruptcy or not, what it does determine is where you can file for bankruptcy and which set of property exemptions will apply to your case.
When you file a Chapter 7, some of your assets are protected from your creditors (and their champion – the Chapter 7 Trustee. These are protected assets (what you get to keep in Chapter 7) are your “exempt property.” When the current Bankruptcy Code was originally passed, Congress made up a list of the items you can exempt, often referred to as "the Federal List." Congress, however, also gave permission to the individual states to decide whether they preferred their own list of exempt property rather than use the Federal List. The legislatures of 37 states, including Florida, decided not to use the Federal List, but rather to use their own list of exempt property. This means that the exemptions in a bankruptcy case filed in Florida is different from what you can exempt in a bankruptcy case filed in any other state.
One unique exemption under Florida law is the "homestead exemption," which states that you can keep a homestead, up to one-half acre of land inside the city limits with your residence, or up to 160 acres of land if located outside a city. The homestead exemption has become famous because of prominent cases where some individuals moved to Florida to take advantage of this exemption. To prevent such events from happening, Congress has decided to include a two-year residency requirement to all Florida exemptions.
Residency is an important aspect in the Florida exemption law. The rule states that you have to establish a 24-month residency in Florida to become eligible for the exemption law. If you are not able to prove 24 months of residency, the court focuses on the 6-month period of time preceding the 24-month period. This determines which state exemption laws are applicable to your case. In the event that the previous state has its own residency qualification (that is, that state limits its own exemptions to residents of that state (which you no longer are) you could use the Federal List. The Federal List is more generous on some exemptions and less on others. The timing of your bankruptcy filing could be critical in determining which set of exemption laws would apply to you.
The bankruptcy process is complex. That is why it is important to get an experienced lawyer to help you in every step of your case. The Gainesville bankruptcy attorneys at Ruff & Cohen, have handled countless clients in the past 25 years. They are dedicated to imparting their knowledge to their clients and are committed to create a strategic solutions to their financial difficulties.
Don't wait to get counsel. Schedule a free consultation with the firm at (352) 376-3601!