Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Florida Exemptions do not Apply Extraterritorially

Miami Personal Bankruptcy Lawyer Jordan E. Bublick has over 25 years of experience in filing Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. His office is centrally located in Miami at 1221 Brickell Avenue, 9th Fl., Miami and may be reached at (305) 891-4055.

The court in In re Adams, 375 B.R. 532 (Bkrtcy.W.D.Mo. 2007) (Dow, J.) held that the Florida homestead exemption does not have extraterritorial effect. Although the debtors filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy in Missouri, they were required to apply the Florida exemptions as they had not been domiciled in Missouri for the entire 730 days prior to the bankruptcy filing and were domiciled in Florida for the greater part of the 180 days prior to such 180 day period 11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(A).

The court noted that the Florida homestead exemption found in Florida's constitution at Art. X Section 4 does not specifically provide whether it has extraterritorial effect. The court found that the Florida courts agree with the courts that hold as a general proposition that where the homestead law is silent, it does not have extraterritorial effect. See, e.g., In re Sanders, 72 B.R. 124 (Bankr.M.D.Fla.1987)(mobile home located in Tennessee not exempt under Florida law as not located within the State of Florida), In re Schlackman, 2007 WL 1482011 (Bankr. S.D. Fla. Jan. 2007)(Florida courts construe the Florida constitutional homestead provision to require that the homestead be located within the State of Florida for the homestead exemption to be applicable).

The court refused to follow the case of In re Drenttel, 309 B.R. 320 (8th Cir.BAP2004) which allowed the application of the Minnesota homestead exemption to exempt the debtors' home in Arizona. The court distinguished Drenttel as being based on the interpretation of specific Minnesota exemption statutes and the state's public policy. Furthermore the court suggested that the Drenttel court reached its result in an effort to avoid the inequity of the debtors not being able to claim either state's exemptions. The court noted that BAPCPA added the right for a debtor to claim the federal exemptions if the effect of the domiciliary requirements of section 522 is to render them ineligible for any exemption.