Part-Time Florida Residents and Bankruptcy Cases
Florida is a state with an extremely large population of part-time residents, primarily including retirees who spend their winters in the state. According to Kiplinger, nearly 22 percent of the state’s residents are aged 65 and older. During the winter months, the overall Florida population rises about 5 percent due to an increased number of part-time residents, or “snowbirds,” who travel south to live in a second home while the winter ravages the Northeast or Midwest. Whether you spend your winters in Florida, or you live in South Florida only on a part-time basis for another reason, you may be wondering about how your residency status will impact your bankruptcy case.
In short, can you file for bankruptcy in Florida if you only live here as a part-time resident? The answer to the question ultimately depends on where you are domiciled, and that question can significantly affect your bankruptcy case since several of Florida’s exemptions are quite different from those in other states.
You Must File for Bankruptcy in the Place Where You Reside
Generally speaking, you must file for bankruptcy in the place you reside. The US Bankruptcy Code specifies that the jurisdiction where you file is the one “in which the domicile, residence, principal place of business in the United States, or principal assets in the United States, of the person or entity that is the subject of such case have been located for the one hundred and eighty days immediately preceding such commencement…”
But if you live in Florida on a part-time basis and in another state for the rest of the year, where will you be able to file? Generally speaking, you will need to determine where you are domiciled, or the state you consider to be your primary place of residence. If it is Florida, then you would file for bankruptcy in Florida. If it is another state, then you would file in that state. Consider, for example, which state you have a driver’s license in, where you own a home, where you spend a majority of time, and other relevant factors.
Being Domiciled in Florida Does Not Guarantee That You Can Use the Florida Exemptions
Florida has an extremely generous homestead exemption, allowing bankruptcy filers to exempt all equity in a home. Yet Florida law requires you to have lived in Florida for at least 730 days (before filing for bankruptcy) in order to use the Florida exemptions, and to have owned your property for 1,215 days or more in order to claim Florida’s homestead exemption. Accordingly, if you have only recently made Florida your primary residence, you may still be able to file for bankruptcy in Florida but may need to use the exemptions from your previous state.
Contact Our West Palm Beach Bankruptcy Lawyers
If you are considering bankruptcy and have any questions about your eligibility to file for bankruptcy in Florida, it is critical to get in touch with one of the experienced West Palm Beach bankruptcy attorneys at Kelley, Fulton, Kaplan & Eller who can assist you. Whether or not you can file for bankruptcy in Florida and use the Florida exemptions will impact your case and, especially, your ability to retain the equity in your home. Do not hesitate to contact us to find out more about how we can assist you.