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Florida Health Savings Account Plans Question & Answers

2014 June 5
by Sarah Fields

David asks…

I’m filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida. What can they take from me?

I’m unemployed and filing Ch. 7. I live in Florida, and I’m a little worried about what they can and can’t take.

I own two vehicles, neither of which is running or even registered right now. A 1988 Suzuki Samurai and a 1988 Ford Ranger. Both are all beat up and we’ve been slowly putting little bits of money into fixing them when we can. If they take these, we will have to start all over and buy a new car, which we can’t afford.

I also own a very nice computer desk, which is an heirloom from my father, and I wouldn’t be able to bear parting with it.

Other than that, we own a computer and a laptop. The laptop is my daughter’s for her schoolwork but is 7 years old and wouldn’t sell for anything now. And I use the desktop pc to find work, since I have no running vehicle it’s much easier than riding the bus all over town looking for employment.

I have a big screen tv, but it’s 7 years old, not even flat – it’s got the old-style rounded screen. I’ve tried to pawn it and they won’t even take it. If they take this, I’ll have no tv at home and I suppose I’ll have to deal. But I like to have it for family tv time in the evenings.

Also, my daughter has an xBox 360, a gift for Christmas. Could they take this?

My home is rented, no worries there. And our furnishings are all hand-me-downs.

What of these things should I be concerned about them taking?
I’m looking for specific answers, please. Which items in particular should I be concerned about?
And please, no job hunting advice – that’s not what I’m asking for.
LAUREN F – Thank you for your answer, for some reason I don’t see the “Choose as best answer” button, hopefully it shows up later today, but thank you, your answer was exactly what I needed!

Sarah Fields answers:

Here is a list of what property a bankruptcy filer is allowed to keep in Florida. From what I can see, you are probably ok. Your daughter’s xBox is her property, so that is safe no matter what.

Exempt Property

1. Homestead. Your homestead is exempt property under Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution. This protection is afforded homestead properties situated on one-half acre or less within a municipality and properties up to 160 acres outside a municipality. There is no dollar limitation. The homestead exemption applies to all Florida residents. The new bankruptcy law does not affect homestead protection for Florida residents in state court proceedings.

The new bankruptcy law does change the homestead exemption for Florida residents who file bankruptcy. Under the new law you can protect unlimited equity in your homestead provided you purchased the residence 40 months or more prior to filing bankruptcy. If you purchased your home within 40 months the new law exempts up to $137,000 of equity. The exemption amount is increased (effective April, 2007) from the original $125,000 to approximatley $137,000 per person. Additionally, if you injected cash in your home within the 40 months, such as by paying down the mortgage or building a home addition, the amount of investment made within the 40 months will not be exempt even if you purchased the home 40 months prior to filing. The $137,000 homestead exemption limit applies only in bankruptcy cases. Several courts have held that a married couple filing jointly can claim two homestead exemptions for a total homestead protection of $274,000.

2. Statutory Exemptions Chapter 222 of the Florida Statutes includes several categories of exempt property, including: pensions, 401K plans, tax deferred retirement plans, Social Security income, disability income, IRAs, annuities, cash value of life insurance, college investment plans (including 529 Plans), health savings accounts, and hurricane savings accounts.

3. Automobile Exemption: You are allowed to exempt $1,000 of equity in an automobile. Spouses who jointly own a car may exempt $2,000 of value in that car. Most bankruptcy trustees use the average retail/wholesale value from the yellow NADA book, adjusted for the condition of your car. If the balance of your car loan is greater than the car value (“upside down”) then you have no car equity and your car is protected in bankruptcy so long as you keep your car payments current.

4. Miscellaneous personal property exemption. Each bankruptcy debtor is allowed to exempt $1,000 ($2,000 for joint filings) of all other personal property including furniture, cloths, tools, and estimated cash on hand. For bankruptcy purposes the value of your personal property is its current fair market value at a public market such as a garage sale or flea market sale. A new Florida statute effective July 1, 2007, provides a $4,000 “wildcard” personal property exemption to bankruptcy debtors who do not claim a homestead exemption. You must not own a home or intend to surrender the home you do own to the mortgage lender in order to qualifiy for the wildcard exemption. Joint debtors can claim a $8,000 wildcard exemption.

Mark asks…

I got injured with no health insurance, so now I have a financial evaluation appointment at the hospital?

I have a financial evaluation appointment at the hospital to see how much I can pay for my hospital bill (I got injured with no health insurance), the hospital bill came out to $5,000. I make $1,000 p/month almost minimum wage in Florida, and I have a lot of expenses. I want to set up a payment schedule with the hospital where I can pay about $20 p/month. I have a bank account with some savings (roughly $5,000), will I be forced to pay the hospital bill in one lump sum with the money from my bank account or will they let me set up a payment schedule? Do I have to tell them that I even have some savings in a bank account?

P.S. When you set up a payment schedule, do they charge interest on that?

Any advice would be appreciated.

Sarah Fields answers:

Admit to the 5k, they cannot clean you out. Bring pay stubs, bills and any other monthly debts. Yes they will set the payment plan at something affordable. No they do not charge interest. That is why being honest and upfront is best. Not to admit to the 5k and they will find it, your deal is void

Daniel asks…

Just married and I need insurance for me and my wife?

I just got married. Im 19 she is 18 and we need health insurance because she is prone to getting UTIs.
I have no idea what to do for heath insurance. I make about $1300 a month. I dont want to pay alot but i want to be able to see doctors and get perscriptions.
i know about cranberry juice
and those of you saying get a new job can go shove one. health benifits dont start for 90 days in any new job and they deduct it from your pay anyway.

Sarah Fields answers:

You didn’t say where you live, but in virtually every part of the country, there are “sliding scale” clinics that offer good basic, routine medical care based on your ability to pay. There should be some kind of public health service that could help as well. Do you currently have ANY health insurance coverage? It IS true that changing jobs would cause you to be without coverage for 90 days or longer. But, if you DID land a higher paying job where health insurance coverage was available, you could maybe set aside a small amount of money for what is called a Health Savings Account, pre tax money that allows you to plan ahead for medical situations just like the one you described. Do a google search on HSAs. These are marketed by various companies, and I don’t think you need all that much to set one up.

As far as the immediate problem, there are sources for discount pharmaceuticals. Here in Florida, and elsewhere, Walmart is offering discount prescriptions for many major medications. Also, our local doctors have reps leave samples which they give to patients who can’t afford to pay for them. I married at 19, and I REALLY know what you’re dealing with. But, I’m now 55, still going strong, and if you will just sit down and calmly analyze the situation, and not do anything impulsive, this IS a situation that you’ll be able to work through. I am also a 19 year minister, and will be glad to talk. Medical issues can be a SEVERE strain on a marriage, so please don’t just let it fester. Calmly, but decisively, start saving what you can and setting it aside, while you also find ways to reduce your medical expenses. Increasing income while you decrease expenses……….this is just good ole basic economics…..Good Luck!

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