Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is a liquidation bankruptcy. The best way to visualize a liquidation bankruptcy is to take yourself back 150 years: If a farmer could not pay is mortgage on the farm he would probably declare bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court would auction off his farm, cattle and farm equipment in order to generate as much money as possible to repay his creditors. The rest of the debt was discharged.
Largely, this is still how bankruptcy works today. However, we have evolved and certain assets are now exempt from liquidation. This means that certain assets are protected and cannot be sold for the benefit of your creditors. In Florida, a debtor can protect 100% of equity in their homestead property, as long as the equity is not "newly acquired". A debtor can also protect 100% of any qualified retirement accounts. Each Florida debtor can also protect $1,000.00 of personal property. Additionally, if a Florida debtor does not claim the homestead exemption, they are entitled to a $4,000.00 wild card exemption. Each Florida debtor is also entitled to claim a $1,000.00 exemption for a motor vehicle.
In order to qualify for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy a debtor must pass the means test. A means test is designed to determine whether you have the "means" or ability to pay back your debts. You can contact the Law Offices of David Meltzer for a free means test analysis.
The means test takes into account you household size, your average monthly income (based on the past 6 months), your monthly obligations on secured and priority debts.