How long does one have to live in a home before it can qualify as an exempt asset for a Chapter 7?

UPDATED: Nov 2, 2010

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How long does one have to live in a home before it can qualify as an exempt asset for a Chapter 7?

I owe double what my home is worth. I have a rental condo that I also owe approximately double what it is worth. I make about half the income that I used to, and I have nearly drained my savings trying to hold on. However, my father passed away a couple of years ago, and I soon will have ownership of an island duplex free and clear. I’m thinking of moving into it and claiming chapter 7. Will the island duplex be exempt from the bankruptcy? Is there a certain amount of time that I need to live in the duplex before it will qualify for the homestead exemption in Chapter 7? Should I speak with a bankruptcy attorney? I Manatee County, FL.

Asked on November 2, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Florida


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

First of all, it must be your primary residence before you file.  Assuming that it is (and you are a legal FL resident), I could find no specific provision for how long prior you would have to live in it.  Basically, if its your home then the homestead exception can apply.  However, a judgement which is recorded before a debtor acquires and occupies a homestead attaches the property, and such lien is not avoided in a subsequent Chapter7 bankruptcy.  If the creditor records its judgment when the property is already the debtor’s homestead then the judgment lien cannot be enforced against what is the debtor’s homestead property.  So you must move in, establish the house as your primary residence, and file - prior to any creditor getting a judgement against you and attaching the house.

Frankly, since this can all get comlicated and technical, your really ned to consult with a bankruptcy attoreny in your area for a fuller discussion of your rights. 

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