Florida asset protection is a process by which a Lakewood Ranch Florida resident can guard his or her assets against creditor attack. A well-constructed Florida asset protection plan can allow you to shield your assets from a frivolous lawsuit, mortgage foreclosure, creditor claim, or other attack on the estate you’ve worked so hard to build. The best time to engage in Florida asset protection planning is before you have any creditors or potential creditor lawsuits filed against you. The asset protection laws in the State of Florida are some of the most debtor-friendly and liberal in the nation. While there are sophisticated Florida asset protection techniques that can be utilized, there are also some simple Florida asset protection methods that anyone can implement to protect themselves in Manatee County.
Available protections under Florida law:
Homestead Real Property: The Florida constitution exempts homestead property from execution and levy by judgment creditors. It applies to single-family houses, condominiums, mobile homes, and manufactured homes. In order to qualify for Florida homestead protection, your Florida homestead must be your primary residence, and you must be a permanent resident of the state. The homestead includes up to one-half acre within a municipality and up to 160 contiguous acres outside a municipality.
Salary or Wages: Wages, earnings or compensation of the head of household which are due for personal labor or services, including wages deposited into a bank account are exempt from garnishment.
Life Insurance Policies and Annuity Contracts: The cash value in insurance and annuities are protected from creditors' claims. Death benefits are not protected from the creditors of the policy beneficiary.
Pension, Profit Sharing Plans & IRAs: Under Florida law, retirement savings not only defers income taxation, but is protected from creditors. Inherited IRAs are not exempt from creditors.
Disability Income: Disability income benefits under any disability insurance policy are exempt from legal process in Florida.
Automobile Exemption: Florida residents may protect up to $1,000 of equity in an automobile.
Prepaid College Plans: Florida prepaid college tuition plans and 529 college saving plan are protected from creditors by Florida Statute.
Miscellaneous Exemptions: The Florida Statutes also protect prescribed health aids, hurricane savings accounts, medical savings accounts, and unemployment benefits.
Tenants by the Entirety: Spouse’s should jointly title their assets as "Tenants by the Entirety." A creditor of either spouse will not be able to reach the asset. However, a creditor of both spouses jointly will be able to attach the asset.
Lifetime Marital Trusts: A spouse can create by gift a trust for the sole benefit of a spouse for the remainder of his or her lifetime. To qualify for the unlimited marital deduction for gifts, the trust must require that all income be distributed annually to the spouse. These Marital Trusts usually have legitimate estate planning objectives, but also provide asset protection for both the donor and donee spouses. The donor spouse receives protection by reducing the assets otherwise available to creditors. The donee spouse receives the benefit of the trust assets and the principal of the trust is protected from the donee's creditors so long as there is a trustee other than the donee spouse serving.
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Marc J. Soss, Attorney at Law | (941) 928-0310