Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Fort Lauderdale: Can I protect My Assets?

When considering Bankruptcy as an option to saving you from nightmarish debt, one of the first questions people often ask is "What about my assets?" When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy all of your assets, both those encumbered by debt and those that are debt free come into question, however the law allows for exemptions to be made within the case so that the filer may protect their assets. By covering your assets with the allotted exemptions, you are able to prevent the trustee from distributing your assets to your creditors.

If you have lived in your Florida residence for a sufficient amount of time you are allowed to use the Florida homestead exemption which is provided by Article X Section 4 of the Florida Constitution. However, by claiming the homestead exemption you limit the amount of exemptions you are able to use on your personal property. Exempt assets in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy can include your vehicles (up to $1,000 per person), Home equity, prepaid college accounts and retirement accounts, and most of your personal assets. Most people who file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy do not usually have assets beyond what the bankruptcy court allows to be exempted and are retained by the debtor.

It is important to know how assets are evaluated in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. The way we like to explain it at Carmen G. Soto is to imagine you are putting everything you own (outside of your monetary assets of course) on your front lawn for a yard sale and you have to write a price tag for everything. Naturally, you aren't going to expect to receive exactly what you paid for your asset. This is how the bankruptcy court expects assets to be evaluated. For more expensive assets, it is often advised that you take the asset to be appraised. For example, if you have a vehicle that needs to be appraised, you can take your vehicle to a local car dealership (ex. Car Max) and receive a free trade-in appraisal that can be used to more accurately appraise your vehicle. Trustees always appreciate any amount of effort that you put into providing the most appropriate value on your more expensive assets.

When filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida you may choose to reaffirm, or keep, some of your debt in order to keep the asset attached to that debt. It is important to inform your attorney of the specific accounts you wish to reaffirm so that they can be properly listed in your Bankruptcy Petition. Additionally, it is important that you disclose a full detailed asset list to your attorney prior to filing your Petition in order to assure that all of your assets are being protected and will not be called into question during your 341 meeting. If you own an asset that is not properly exempted within your Petition, you run the risk of having that asset ceased and distributed by the trustee, so it is important that you disclose everything to your attorney prior to filing.

Carmen G. Soto is adept at properly using all of your exemptions in order to protect your personal assets. Broward County Bankruptcy Attorney Carmen G. Soto can help you navigate the intricacies of asset protection within your Chapter 7 Petition, assuring that all of your assets will be properly cared for.

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