We consulted with a married man who had a wife who was not going to join him in a bankruptcy, and 2 minor children. He came to see us because one of his creditors had garnished his bank accounts. He and his wife rented their home. While most of the couple’s personal property was jointly owned, our client owned 1 car valued at $4,500.00, and other personal property worth $6,260.62. Since our client qualified as the head of his family, his wages ($1,350.62 of the $6,260.62) were exempt under Florida law.
Our client’s debt totaled $114,914.29, which included $111,446.07 of unsecured claims, comprised of credit card debt, 3 final judgments, a deficiency on a car lease (the car was returned because our client could no longer afford to make the payments), and several personal loans.
Our client was employed, but his wife was not. Their monthly household expenses ($5,116.95) exceeded their household monthly income ($4,811.00) by $305.95. We filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.
Our client owned non-exempt personal property worth $9,410.00, and was entitled to personal property exemptions totaling $6,000.00. As such, he was $3,410.00 over the allowable exemption limit.
Our client was thrilled to learn that the trustee abandoned his interest in all of his non-exempt property and filed a report of no distribution. Our client got to keep 100% of his assets and discharged 100% of his debt!
This case was a good example of disproving the myth that all debtors lose their personal property in Chapter 7 liquidations. It also showed why it is important to consult with a bankruptcy attorney rather than trying to file bankruptcy on your own. This client was able to claim an additional exemption that he otherwise might not have known about because he was smart enough to hire our law firm.