730-Day Rule Costs Debtor Homestead Exemption

The Fifth Circuit's recent decision in Camp v. Ingalls allowed an itinerant debtor to claim federal exemptions that would not have been available to him had he remained in Florida. That was a small victory for the debtor. However, a decision released just a few days later reveals the darker side of the 730 day rule for claiming exemptions. In the case of In re Fernandez, No. 09-32896 (Bankr. W.D. Tex. 1/26/11), which can be found here, a debtor was deprived of the generous homestead exemption allowed by both Texas and Nevada law where he had gone back and forth between these states.

What Happened

Alfred Fernandez owned a home in El Paso, Texas. When he was laid off from his job in El Paso, he relocated to Nevada for seven years. All the while, he continued to make the payments on his home in El Paso and planned to return. About a year prior to bankruptcy, he did return. When he filed for bankruptcy, he claimed his home as exempt under Texas law and the trustee objected. Then he amended his exemptions to claim the home as exempt under Nevada law and the trustee objected.

Because he had not lived in Texas for 730 days before bankruptcy, the Texas exemptions were not available to him. However, the trustee contended that Nevada law could not be used to exempt property located in Texas. The Bankruptcy Court agreed.

Read the entire article at A Texas Bankruptcy Lawyer's Blog

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