The ABC’s of Bankruptcy – an alphabetical series designed to help you understand the lingo.

Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter “A”, for assets that is.   Assets play a big role in the bankruptcy world.  A quick search of bankruptcy assets on the web can bring fear to just about anyone considering filing.  People seriously freak out about the possibility of losing their assets, and who wouldn’t???   So let’s calm your fears and get into the nitty gritty of assets.

For bankruptcy purposes assets can be described as items of ownership such as cash, automobiles, and real estate… anything that could be converted to cash.

I am not kidding when I tell you that the words “Chapter 7” or “liquidation bankruptcy” often bring unrealistic fears to consumers who immediately think they will lose all of their personal belongings. I highlighted unrealistic because, for the most part, they are.  I have never had a client actually lose any of their personal belongings in a bankruptcy and I doubt I would be in business if every client was left with cardboard boxes for furniture after a bankruptcy.

In Bankruptcy, Exemptions are referred to assets that the trustee has deemed exempt from your bankruptcy, in other words that he’s not allowed to liquidate.  It does get a little confusing, but that’s why you hire a lawyer who understands Florida’s exemptions.

Here’s how it works:

If you own real estate you can protect it by using Florida’s Homestead Exemption – not to be confused with the discount you get on your taxes.  In Florida, you can totally protect any equity in your home from liquidation.

What about my personal property you say?  I seriously doubt you will ever find Bankruptcy Trustees who have the time and resources to hold daily debtor yard sales to sell your things and pay your creditors.  It’s just not realistic or cost effective to do something like this.   So in Florida we are lucky to have personal property exemptions as well, but you have to choose your best option when it comes to applying exemptions to your assets.

Option 1:

Protect your Home completely.

No matter what, every person filing gets to keep $1,000 of personal property, including cash in the bank.  If you are married, it doubles to $2,000.

No matter what, every person filing gets to apply up to $1,000 toward a vehicle.  If you are married and each own a vehicle then you each can apply $1,000 to each vehicle.   If you have a loan on your vehicle with no equity then it doesn’t matter, there is nothing to protect.  Remember your trustee is looking for assets.  This exemption is helpful when there is equity in free and clear vehicles or for those who don’t owe much on their vehicles.

Option 2:

You don’t own a home or you have no equity in your home.

Just as shown above you still get the $1,000 each of personal property, along with the vehicle exemptions.

Since you have no homestead that requires protection Florida has an enhanced exemption called the Wild Card to protect even more of your personal belongings.   The Florida Wild Card offers $4000 for each debtor in addition to the standard exemptions shown above.  Do the math…. a married couple can keep up to $12,000 worth of personal belongings.  This exemption is fantastic for debtor’s who own free and clear cars, or who have more valuable assets and want to keep them.

There are quite a few things to take into considering when applying exemptions and only a skilled Jacksonville Florida Bankruptcy Lawyer can give you the best advice when it comes to your assets.   If you are considering filing for Bankruptcy in the Jacksonville or Fernandina Beach areas, and need advice on how to protect your assets, contact Florida Bankruptcy Attorney Robert Peters at 904-421-6907 in Jacksonville, or 904-491-1083 in Fernandina Beach.  You can also reach my office for a free consultation anytime by email at [email protected] or visit my website at

Need more information about Bankruptcy in Jacksonville FL?

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