In 2000, Natalie Portman starred in "Where the Heart
Is," a movie about a pregnant 17 year old girl who makes her home in a
Walmart. Judge Stacey Jernigan recently had to decide a quite different case
about home and the heart. The case involved whether a modern day cowpoke's
heart was down on the ranch or in town in his wife's bedroom. Fortunately, like
a character in a John Wayne movie, the Debtor fended off every attack and saved
the ranch. In re Tinsley, No. 09-36036 (Bankr. N.D. Tex. 11/16/10). The
opinion can be found here.
Our story goes back to 1979, when the Debtor's father purchased 116 acres
located in Kaufman, Texas. In 2004, the Debtor moved into the Kaufman property
to take care of his father. From 2004 to 2008, the Debtor stayed at the
property full time and operated his own business, which consisted of running
cattle and growing hay.
On September 24, 2008, the Debtor's father passed away and left the ranch to
the Debtor. under his will A few days later on October 14, 2008, the Debtor
married. After marriage, he d spent his days at the Kaufman property and his
nights at his wife's home. The Debtor generously allowed his adult son and his
family to live at the Kaufman property.
On September 10, 2009, the Debtor filed bankruptcy. Title to the Kaufman
property remained in the name of his deceased father because the probate case
had not been concluded. The Debtor used his wife's address as his address on the
bankruptcy petition, but claimed the Kaufman property as his homestead.
The Trustee and a creditor objected to the claimed homestead exemption on the
a. The Kaufman property was not his homestead under Texas law; and
b. The homestead exemption was capped at $136,875 because the Debtor acquired
his interest within 1,215 days before bankruptcy.
Read the entire article at A Texas
Bankruptcy Lawyer's Blog