Do Florida Asset Exemptions Apply Only To Florida Residents?

Jon Alper Florida Exemptions

Assume a man resides in the state of Georgia, but works for several years in Florida for a Florida employer. During the time of employment he establishes a 401k plan at a Florida financial institution, and for investment, he buys an annuity from the same Florida institution. Later, he is sued in Georgia, and the Georgia court awards a money judgment to his creditors. Can the Georgia resident assert any exemptions provided by Florida statutes because he worked and invested in Florida.

The answer depends upon whether the Florida exemption statute gives the exemption exclusively to residents of Florida. Some statute provisions within the Florida exemption chapter provide an exemption of a certain assets only for residents of Florida. Annuities is an example. Other statutory exemptions make no distinction between residents and non-residents- the head of household and pension exemptions are examples.

Therefore, if the creditor domesticated the Georgia judgment in Florida and tried to collect the judgment in Florida a Florida court should exempt this debtors wages (if head of household) and his pension. The annuity would not be exempt because the debtor is not a Florida resident. If the creditor went through the Georgia courts to collect the judgment and tried to get the Georgia court to garnish the man’s Florida salary and pension the Georgia court may not recognize the Florida exemptions due to the general rule that debtors may not export Florida exemptions to other states’ courts.

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