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Is Ameritrade IRA account collection proof in Florida ?

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  • Is Ameritrade IRA account collection proof in Florida ?

    I am a Florida resident and early next year I am facing a court hearing about a Citicard lawsuit and am anticipating a judgement against me...
    Hence I am doing a last minute review to make sure that my ducks are in row.

    Until now I have always considered all of my meager belongings exempt/collection proof, including an IRA with 'Ameritrade' that I opened a long time ago online while still living in NY State.
    Last night I read the following on the [email protected] site( a FL attorney) :

    " The debtor's IRAs are exempt from creditors. A 2011 Florida statute expanded the definition of an IRA to include both rollover and inherited IRA accounts.

    As discussed further below, IRA accounts must be maintained in a Florida financial institution or branch to be covered by Florida's exemption law".

    As Ameritrade has its headquaters in Nebraska I am now wondering if my IRA account is safe or may it be subjected to being raided following a judgement ?

    As per attorney Alpers reports the account is vunerable, however I am wondering if there is a difference for brokerage accounts that are opened and operated online ?

  • #2
    Yes, you can exempt it, provided that it really IS an IRA, as defined by the IRS.

    As long as it was set up properly, you should have no problem.

    I exempted about 17k when we filed, and the money was in an Ameritrade IRA account, as well.

    While they are headquartered in NE, they are considered to be "in business" anywhere they are licensed to operate. In this case, Florida.

    You should be okay. We didn't even list the amount in our filing, just noted that we had a qualified Ameritrade account, and left the number blank. The trustee asked a question about it. The UST was in the room, having just attended another case, and asked how much was in the account and whether we were certain it was an IRS qualified account.

    It was, and that was all we heard about it.
    11-20-09-- Filed Chapter 7
    12-23-09-- 341 Meeting-Early Christmas Gift?
    3-9-10--Discharged

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    • #3
      I believe the exemption for IRAs is north of $1M. I have read where the IRA was recently created, ~ the last year, and the trustee went after it as an obvious ploy to hide money from the trustee. I got quizzed on when our IRAs were created, 20 years ago, and what had been our pattern of contributions, no recent changes. In addition, ERRISA backed 401k and retirement plans are protected above and beyond the IRAs. In theory, if you have been a saver and did not touch your IRAs, 401k and retirement plan to try to save you from BK, you could file BK and exit a millionaire.
      Chap 7 Non-consumer --Realized headed for bankruptcy Nov 2010 --Started planning BK7 Spring 2011 -- Filed Sept 2011 -- 341 & Continued 341 Meetings Nov 2011 --No Asset Case Nov 2011 --Discharged Jan 2012 --Closed Feb 2012

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      • #4
        Good point.

        If your contribution pattern changed drastically, the trustee can claw back the difference.

        So don't load your excess funds into an IRA at the last moment without serious thought and awareness of the issue.

        If your contributions have been longterm and regular, you should be ok. I have seen cases where the contribution increased 10-15% in the year before BK and everything was fine.

        In other cases, people added 200k or more in the month before filing. You can imagine the trouble this caused.

        As with so much in BK, intent is the real issue, and if you play nice you'll be fine.
        11-20-09-- Filed Chapter 7
        12-23-09-- 341 Meeting-Early Christmas Gift?
        3-9-10--Discharged

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        • #5
          I shielded a total of IRA accounts @ $175K. Between that and my cheap home ($35K exemption, bought on the eve of filing), grand piano (Louisiana exempts musical instruments), 140K mile car & other exempted items, I walked out a quarter-millionaire.

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          • #6
            Since my initial post I have contacted Mr. Alper and asked for him to clarify his statements on his website and while he was kind enough to respond his reply leaves everything as clear as mud to me....(lol):

            "IRA is exempt if Ameritrade is online only and does not have physical
            offices in any state other than Nebraska, and address on account statement
            is in Florida."

            Thanks to all that have taken time and consideration to give input to my question.
            I should however clarify that while this particular IRA meets all requirements to be fully exempt in bankruptcy, my question actually pertains to asset protection outside of bankruptcy. At this time I am not in a hurry yet to file...but, I am trying to make sure that this IRA is positively fully exempt and judgement creditors can NOT get a hold of any part of it.

            Sorry about my delayed response...due to health issues I was out of commission and without internet access (ugh!) until now....but, I am back among the living...

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