Residency Requirements for Florida’s Homestead Exemption
If you own real property in Florida, and if you currently live in the state and are thinking about filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you might know a little bit about Florida’s extremely generous homestead exemption. As you might know more broadly, in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, all assets that are “exempt” under Florida law are assets that a debtor can keep. In other words, they are not liquidated in the bankruptcy case to repay creditors. Only non-exempt property is liquidated. Since Florida requires bankruptcy filers in the state to use Florida exemptions set forth in the Florida Statutes, many debtors in the state take advantage of the homestead exemption.
Florida has a homestead exemption that is significantly more generous than the homestead exemption in other states. In Florida, a debtor can exempt all of the equity in their home — an unlimited amount — if they meet certain requirements. One of those requirements is a residency requirement. Our West Palm Beach can tell you more and can begin working with you on your bankruptcy case.
What is the Residency Requirement for Florida’s Homestead Exemption?
In order to be eligible to exempt an unlimited amount of equity in your home in Florida, you must have been residing in Florida for more than 730 days before the date of your bankruptcy filing. This residency requirement applies to Florida’s homestead exemption, as well as to all other bankruptcy exemptions set forth under Florida law. If you have not been a resident of Florida for at least 730 days before filing for bankruptcy, you will need to use the bankruptcy exemptions set forth by state law in the state where you lived previously.
If you have not lived in Florida for more than 180 days, you cannot actually file for bankruptcy in Florida — you will need to wait for at least 180 days before filing.
Additional Requirements for Using the Homestead Exemption
The residency requirement is not the only requirement under Florida law for taking advantage of the homestead exemption. In addition to residing in Florida for at least 730 days, all of the following also must be true:
- Your property cannot be more than one-half of an acre if it is located in a municipality or more than 160 acres if it is outside a municipality; and
- You must have owned the real estate for at least 1,215 days before you filed for bankruptcy.
To be clear, there is a residency requirement for exempting all of the equity in your home in Florida when you file for bankruptcy, but in addition to the residency requirement, you must also meet the above two requirements.
Contact a West Palm Beach Bankruptcy Lawyer
When you are planning to file for bankruptcy in South Florida, it is crucial to have one of the experienced West Palm Beach bankruptcy attorneys at Kelley, Kaplan & Eller on your side. Certain Florida bankruptcy exemptions — and the homestead exemption in particular — can be critical for a debtor to be able to take advantage of, so it is important to have a lawyer on your side who can help you to understand your eligibility and any necessary residency requirements.