Navigating the Homestead Exemption: How Long to Reside in Florida Before Filing for Bankruptcy

Written By: Emil FleysherSeptember 19, 2023
How long to reside in Florida before filing for bankruptcy

Florida is famous for its sunny beaches, beautiful landscapes, and vibrant communities. It's no wonder many individuals and families call the Sunshine State home. One of the attractive benefits of living in Florida is the homestead exemption, which provides protection for your primary residence in the event of bankruptcy. However, understanding the homestead exemption requirements, including the residency duration, is crucial.

In this blog post, we'll explore how long you need to live in Florida before claiming the homestead exemption in bankruptcy.

What You Need to Know About Homestead Exemption

What you need to know about homestead exemption

Before we delve into residency requirements, let's briefly understand the homestead exemption. The homestead exemption is a lawful provision that protects a portion of your primary residence's equity from being used to satisfy certain debts, including those in bankruptcy proceedings. This exemption aims to help homeowners maintain a stable living environment during financial difficulties.

Establishing Residency in Florida

In order to file for bankruptcy using the Florida exemptions, you need to reside in Florida for at least 730 days (approximately two years) before filing your bankruptcy petition to claim the full homestead exemption. However, if you haven't met this requirement, you may still be eligible for an exemption based on your state's homestead exemption laws.

Florida exemption laws are extremely generous regarding homestead protection, but the Florida exemption laws are equally stingy regarding personal property and vehicle exemptions. If you have not lived in Florida for two years and need to file for bankruptcy, you may be better off since the Federal Exemptions allow you to protect a lot more equity in your car, personal property, money in the bank, etc.

With regard to the homestead exemptions, you must own your homestead property for at least 1,215 days (approximately 3.5 years) and have resided in Florida for at least the most recent two years to qualify for the unlimited Florida homestead protection in bankruptcy. However, if you've been a Florida resident for at least two years but have not owned your home for at least 1,215 days, you can still qualify for a homestead exemption in bankruptcy of up to $189,000.

Important Considerations

While meeting the residency requirements is essential, there are some important considerations to keep in mind:

  • Homestead Cap: The amount of equity protected under the homestead exemption is limited. The cutoff date is September 2021, and the Florida Constitution sets the cap at $160,000. However, it's crucial to verify the current cap, as it may have changed since then.
  • Intent to Stay: The bankruptcy court may examine your intent to stay in Florida permanently. If it appears that you moved to Florida solely to take advantage of the homestead exemption, it could impact your eligibility.
  • Marital Status: If you are married, both spouses must meet the residency requirements to claim the homestead exemption jointly.

Consult with a Bankruptcy Attorney

Consult with bankruptcy attorney

Navigating bankruptcy laws and exemptions can be complex, and the rules may change over time. Therefore, consulting with an experienced bankruptcy attorney specializing in Florida bankruptcy cases is highly advisable. They can provide personalized counsel tailored to your unique situation and ensure that you meet all the requirements.

The homestead exemption in Florida can provide valuable protection for your primary residence during bankruptcy proceedings. Understanding the residency requirements is crucial to make the most of this benefit. Whether you are contemplating Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it's essential to consult with a qualified attorney to ensure you meet the eligibility criteria and safeguard your home.

Remember, your home is not just a place to live; it's also a significant investment, and the homestead exemption helps protect that investment during challenging financial times.

Contact Fleysher Law Today and Be Ready to Navigate Your Path to Financial Freedom

Contact Fleysher Law today and be ready to navigate your path to financial freedom

Bankruptcy doesn't have to be daunting. Let us guide you through Florida's homestead exemption and protect your home. Don't leave your home's fate to chance. 

Reach out to our seasoned bankruptcy attorneys at Fleysher Law now for professional advice customized to your specific circumstances. Securing your financial future starts with a call.

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