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Is an inheritance exempt from bankruptcy if I have not filed yet in Florida?

Lady Lake, FL |

I just found out about my deceased mothers dormant accounts and want to claim them. She passed in 2005. They are worth about $28,000. My spouse and I have retained an attorney but will not file until Sept or Oct of this year . It will take us till then to pay their fee. I do not work ,am disabled. I am ill and have medical expenses. I have a judgment against me also. Will I lose all of the inheritance or can I use it and for what? I would like to have the money for my children's college educations,medical bills and home repairs(we live in my sons home as we lost ours to foreclosure). We are filing Chapter 7.

My mother was a Florida resident and passed away in Florida. I was the sole heir to her estate and received my inheritance in 2005. But I was unaware of these dormant accounts until now.

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Attorney answers 6

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The funds a person receives from an inheritance are not protected in a bankruptcy. Since you do not own a home you will be able to protect up to $5,000.00 of the money. The rest.......

While I appreciate your good intentions of using the funds for your children's education and so on, you are unknowingly committing a fraud on your creditors. They do not care about your children's eduction or fixing up their home, and frankly, why should they.

Obviously, some of that money can be used, such as for your bankruptcy attorney's legal fees and costs, and for your own living expenses. But you can not keep the $28,000.00 intact, file for Bankruptcy Relief, and expect to keep the money.

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It might be a better plan to wait until you get the funds and use them up for reasonable and necessary expenses. There may be some exemption planning that can be done prior to filing. You should discuss these issues with your bankruptcy attorney. If you were to file before receiving the funds, the trustee in your case would take all that you could not exempt and use it to pay your creditors.


Counsel are correct. There is no separate exemption in Florida for an inheritance. You can use your wildcard exemptions (which for a husband and wife in a joint filing would be $8000.00). Is this something you've discussed with the attorney you've retained? You need to let your attorney know of all assets or any claim or right to an asset PRIOR to filing,


I am attaching a link to general description of exemptions laws for all 50 states for you to review on your own. Hope this perspective helps!


Get the money from the dormant accounts first and use the money before you file for reasonable and necessary expenses for such things as home repairs, car repairs, everyday living expenses, medical bills, 401k contributions, attorneys fees (hint, hint). Don't go on a shopping spree buying luxury goods. Use up all but the amount you can claim as exempt and I defer to my learned colleagues from the Sunshine State as to how much you can exempt. Talk about the best strategy to use this money without getting in trouble with your attorney ASAP.

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Chances are you will lose an inheritance in a chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida. There may be some exemptions you may qualify for; however, it is best to get the money and file after you have the opportunity to explore your options with an attorney.