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THE STATUS OF YOUR PENSION OR RETIREMENT PLANS WHEN FILING FOR BANKRUPTCY IN FLORIDA

January 29, 2018

Generally speaking, your pensions and/or retirement plans are completely protected when filing for bankruptcy in Florida.

 

The laws which protect them and make them “exempt” (so that they cannot be sold off and the money used to repay your creditors) are generally Fla. Stat. Ann. § 222.21(2) and 11 U.S.C. §522.

 

While the actual text of these laws is included at the end of this blog, they basically state that the following are all 100% exempt:

 

  • ERISA qualified (i.e. meeting the minimum standards set by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ) 401k’s, 403b’s, profit-sharing plans, stock bonus plans and retirement annuities.

  • IRA’s and Roth IRA’s.

  • Firefighter pensions (F.S. 175.241)

  • County Officer or Employee pensions (F.S. 122.15)

  • State Officer or Employee pensions (F.S. 121.131)

  • Police Officer pensions (F.S. 185.25)

  • Teacher pensions (F.S. 238.15)

 

222.21 Exemption of pension money and certain tax-exempt funds or accounts from legal processes.—

(2)(a) Except as provided in paragraph (d), any money or other assets payable to an owner, a participant, or a beneficiary from, or any interest of any owner, participant, or beneficiary in, a fund or account is exempt from all claims of creditors of the owner, beneficiary, or participant if the fund or account is:

1. Maintained in accordance with a master plan, volume submitter plan, prototype plan, or any other plan or governing instrument that has been preapproved by the Internal Revenue Service as exempt from taxation under s. 401(a), s. 403(a), s. 403(b), s. 408, s. 408A, s. 409, s. 414, s. 457(b), or s. 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, unless it has been subsequently determined that the plan or governing instrument is not exempt from taxation in a proceeding that has become final and nonappealable;

2. Maintained in accordance with a plan or governing instrument that has been determined by the Internal Revenue Service to be exempt from taxation under s. 401(a), s. 403(a), s. 403(b), s. 408, s. 408A, s. 409, s. 414, s. 457(b), or s. 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, unless it has been subsequently determined that the plan or governing instrument is not exempt from taxation in a proceeding that has become final and nonappealable; or

3. Not maintained in accordance with a plan or governing instrument described in subparagraph 1. or subparagraph 2. if the person claiming exemption under this paragraph proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the fund or account is maintained in accordance with a plan or governing instrument that:

a. Is in substantial compliance with the applicable requirements for tax exemption under s. 401(a), s. 403(a), s. 403(b), s. 408, s. 408A, s. 409, s. 414, s. 457(b), or s. 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended; or

b. Would have been in substantial compliance with the applicable requirements for tax exemption under s. 401(a), s. 403(a), s. 403(b), s. 408, s. 408A, s. 409, s. 414, s. 457(b), or s. 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, but for the negligent or wrongful conduct of a person or persons other than the person who is claiming the exemption under this section.

(b) It is not necessary that a fund or account that is described in paragraph (a) be maintained in accordance with a plan or governing instrument that is covered by any part of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act for money or assets payable from or any interest in that fund or account to be exempt from claims of creditors under that paragraph.

(c) Any money or other assets or any interest in any fund or account that is exempt from claims of creditors of the owner, beneficiary, or participant under paragraph (a) does not cease to be exempt after the owner’s death by reason of a direct transfer or eligible rollover that is excluded from gross income under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, including, but not limited to, a direct transfer or eligible rollover to an inherited individual retirement account as defined in s. 408(d)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended. This paragraph is intended to clarify existing law, is remedial in nature, and shall have retroactive application to all inherited individual retirement accounts without regard to the date an account was created.

(d) Any fund or account described in paragraph (a) is not exempt from the claims of an alternate payee under a qualified domestic relations order or from the claims of a surviving spouse pursuant to an order determining the amount of elective share and contribution as provided in part II of chapter 732. However, the interest of any alternate payee under a qualified domestic relations order is exempt from all claims of any creditor, other than the Department of Revenue, of the alternate payee. As used in this paragraph, the terms “alternate payee” and “qualified domestic relations order” have the meanings ascribed to them in s. 414(p) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

(e) This subsection applies to any proceeding that is filed on or after the effective date of this act.

 

 

11 U.S.C. §522 – Exemptions

(b)(1) … an individual debtor may exempt from property of the estate …

(3)(C) … retirement funds to the extent that those funds are in a fund or account that is exempt from taxation under section 401, 403, 408, 408A, 414, 457, or 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

 

175.241 Exemption from tax and execution.—For any municipality, special fire control district, chapter plan, local law municipality, local law special fire control district, or local law plan under this chapter, the pensions, annuities, or other benefits accrued or accruing to any person under any chapter plan or local law plan under the provisions of this chapter and the accumulated contributions and the cash securities in the funds created under this chapter are hereby exempted from any state, county, or municipal tax and shall not be subject to execution or attachment or to any legal process whatsoever, and shall be unassignable.

 

122.15 Benefits exempt from taxes and execution.—

(1) The pensions, annuities, or any other benefits accrued or accruing to any person under the provisions of this chapter and the accumulated contributions and the cash securities in the funds created under this chapter are hereby exempted from any state, county or municipal tax of the state and shall not be subject to execution or attachment or to any legal process whatsoever and shall be unassignable.

(2) This subsection shall have no effect upon this section except that the department may, upon written request from the retired member, deduct premiums for group hospitalization insurance from the retirement benefit paid such retired member.

 

121.131 Benefits exempt from taxes and execution.—The benefits accrued to any person under the provisions of this chapter and the accumulated contributions, securities, or other investments in the trust funds hereby created are exempt from any state, county, or municipal tax of the state and shall not be subject to assignment, execution, or attachment or to any legal process whatsoever.

 

185.25 Exemption from tax and execution.—For any municipality, chapter plan, local law municipality, or local law plan under this chapter, the pensions, annuities, or any other benefits accrued or accruing to any person under any municipality, chapter plan, local law municipality, or local law plan under the provisions of this chapter and the accumulated contributions and the cash securities in the funds created under this chapter are exempted from any state, county, or municipal tax of the state and shall not be subject to execution or attachment or to any legal process whatsoever and shall be unassignable.

 

238.15 Exemption of funds from taxation, execution, and assignment.—The pensions, annuities or any other benefits accrued or accruing to any person under the provisions of this chapter and the accumulated contributions and cash securities in the funds created under this chapter are exempted from any state, county or municipal tax of the state, and shall not be subject to execution or attachment or to any legal process whatsoever, and shall be unassignable, except:

(1) That any teacher who has retired shall have the right and power to authorize in writing the Department of Management Services to deduct from his or her monthly retirement allowance money for the payment of the premiums on group insurance for hospital, medical and surgical benefits, under a plan or plans for such benefits approved in writing by the Chief Financial Officer, and upon receipt of such request the department shall make the monthly payments as directed; and

(2) As may be otherwise specifically provided for in this chapter.

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