Asset Protection and Trusts for High Net Worth Clients in Florida: What’s Exempt from Judgments

Fri 14th Apr, 2023 General

As a Floridian, it is critical to understand the intricacies of asset protection laws. While certain assets are immune from creditor judgments in Florida, it is critical to consider additional safeguards for your wealth, such as the use of trusts.

The following assets are typically protected from judgments in Florida for high net worth clients:

  1. Homestead Exemption: Florida has one of the most generous homestead exemptions in the country. If your primary residence is on land that is half an acre or less in a municipality or 160 acres or less in any other area, it is exempt from creditors. This exemption also applies to mobile homes that are classified as a homestead. However, it’s crucial to note that homestead protection may not apply if you have a mortgage on the property, and it does not extend to second homes or investment properties.
  2. Retirement Accounts: Most retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s, IRAs, and pensions, are exempt from judgments in Florida. However, some types of retirement accounts, such as inherited IRAs, may not be fully protected.
  3. Life Insurance: The cash surrender value of a life insurance policy is generally exempt from judgments in Florida, as long as the policy is not fraudulent or purchased with the intent to defraud creditors. The proceeds of a life insurance policy paid to a beneficiary upon the death of the insured are also exempt from judgments.
  4. Personal Property: Certain types of personal property are exempt from judgments in Florida. This includes up to $1,000 in personal property, such as furniture and electronics, as well as up to $4,000 in personal property if you don’t claim a homestead exemption. Additionally, certain types of property, such as clothing, jewelry, and household goods, are exempt regardless of their value.
  5. Trusts: Establishing trusts can offer an additional layer of protection for high net worth clients. By transferring assets into an irrevocable trust, you may be able to protect them from creditor judgments. However, it’s important to work with an experienced attorney to ensure that the trust is structured properly and that you are not transferring assets with the intent to defraud creditors. 

It’s crucial to note that while these assets are typically protected from judgments, there are exceptions and limitations. For example, assets can still be seized to satisfy certain types of debts, such as child support, alimony, and taxes. Additionally, fraudulent transfers of assets may not be protected from judgments.

If you’re a high net worth client facing a potential judgment, it’s crucial to speak with an experienced Florida attorney who can help you understand your options and protect your assets. An attorney can help you develop a comprehensive asset protection plan that may include the use of trusts and other legal instruments.

In conclusion, high net worth clients in Florida need to be proactive in protecting their assets from potential creditor judgments. While Florida’s laws provide significant protections for certain assets, such as homestead property and retirement accounts, it’s essential to consider additional measures to safeguard your wealth. Contact one of our experienced attorneys that can develop a comprehensive asset protection plan that meets your unique needs and helps you achieve your long-term financial goals.