Category: Exemptions

Bankruptcy exemptions information, involving the ability to protect and keep some of a debtor’s assets in a bankruptcy from liquidation

reset the 1215 days for the homestead

Can a Home Transfer to a Trust in 1215 days Blow the Homestead?

Transfer but Keeping Equitable Interest, 1215 days, and Homestead

A look whether a refinance or transfer to a LLC, will, or trust restarts the 1,215 days for a homestead exemption in California

The maximum California homestead exemption now protects over $600,000 of home equity. However, there are conditions for a debtor to protect this amount in a bankruptcy. One of these is that the homeowner must have acquired the interest over 1,215 days ago. Does a refinance or transfer to a will, trust, or LLC restart this crucial timer? Let’s take a look.

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California bankruptcy exemptions can save your house.

New! 2024 California Homestead Exemption Increased by Inflation

2024 California Homestead Exemption, increased by inflation

Brand new! The maximum 2024 California Homestead Exemption amounts

The 2024 California homestead exemption numbers are already available, and different from last year, and even the original range of $300,000 to $600,000. In fact, in 2024, they top out way higher than $600,000, which helps you save more of your home from creditors than the homestead exemption could in 2023. Why? Because of inflation. The new California homestead exemption is tied to the CPI, or consumer price index.  And everyone knows things lately aren’t cheap.

November 2023 update: The new inflation-adjusted 2024 California homestead exemption is now known. See below what it will be for cases filed after Jan 1, 2024. Don’t worry – the 2023 homestead exemption amount is still here for cases filed before on Dec 31, 2023 or earlier.

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Figuring the Los Angeles Country median home price size is like trying to calculate the median coin weight when all we have is data about stack size

How to Figure the Los Angeles County Median Home Price (2023)

How to Figure Los Angeles County Median Home Price (2023 & 2024)

The Los Angeles County median home price in 2023 can be tricky to determine. There are different sources that say different things. It’s not clear which of the many options will be relied upon by courts and trustees for the California homestead exemption.  Also, while bankruptcy may seem to be “just forms,” make sure you check out my list of 12 crucial tips to do or avoid before filing bankruptcy.

2023 update: there seems to be a consensus among local bankruptcy attorneys as to what the Los Angeles County median home price is. More than that, this L.A. median price changes each year. While it’s still untested in court, a lot of the initial uncertainty has cleared up.  Read on!

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Amending exemptions or schedules in a reopened case is not allowed in some courts

Amend Exemption in Reopened Bankruptcy? The Three Approaches

Amend Exemption in Reopened Bankruptcy? The Three Approaches

In a bankruptcy case where you already got the order of discharge and has been closed, can you go back and reopen the case to amend the exemptions to protect an asset? The answer is (say it with me): it depends.

The Scenario: Need to Reopen & and Amend Schedules

If you practice bankruptcy long enough, you know the situation. Debtor files bankruptcy, and somehow forgets that they had a cause of action and (potential) lawsuit against someone, and doesn’t disclose the potential asset.

Years later, defendant finds out about the bankruptcy, considers judicial estoppel, and for good measure, notifies the old bankruptcy trustee about the asset in the closed bankruptcy case.

Debtor then reopens the bankruptcy case, and amends the schedule of assets and exemptions and all is forgiven. No harm, no foul.

Of course, this can also happen when you want to avoid the lien of a home with no equity at the time of an old case, using Section 522(f). This would lead to the need to reopen and amend Schedule C with a de minimis amount to show that the lien is impairing an exemption.  In re Higgins, 201 BR 965 (9th Cir BAP 1996)

The Problem: Can you Amend Exemptions after a Bankruptcy is Closed?

We start with one potential issue:  Rule 1009(a) of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedures says when a case can be amended. “A voluntary petition, list, schedule, or statement may be amended by the debtor as a matter of course at any time before the case is closed.”

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The 1215-day rule is unsettled about residency vs ownership in California

1215-day rule: Is Residency Needed, or Merely Ownership in Calif

1215-day rule: Is Residency Needed, or Merely Ownership in California?

A look at how closing the Mansion Loophole could lose your home in bankruptcy

Does the 1215-day rule for the homestead require occupancy as a domicile, or merely ownership? This is a new issue here for bankruptcy attorneys in California. It matters to you, too, if you own a home in California and are thinking of filing bankruptcy. This is because the homestead exemption amount until 1/2021 was always below the 522 number.  Let’s break this apart in plain English a little bit so we can understand what’s at stake.

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California Homestead and Reside Away from Home and State presents challenges

California Homestead: Intent to Reside and the Out-of-State Home

California Homestead: Intent to Reside and the Out-of-State Home

A bankruptcy attorney colleague recently asked, does the California homestead exemption protect you if you don’t reside in the house?  Are you required to live in the home? For how long? Who qualifies? Does the homestead exemption protect the home if the house isn’t in California? The answer, like most things in law, is: “it depends.”

Dual residency in two states and and claim homestead in both?

No, there is no dual residency in multiple states for the purposes of homestead. As you’ll read below, a homestead is the place in which you primarily live. You can’t primarily live in two places. So, the determination is where you primarily reside, which state law applies, and is the house protected by the California homestead exemption.

Let’s look at these “away from home” situations one at a time.

The California homestead and intent to reside

california homestead away from home
California homestead is challenged if away from home, and the intent to actually live there is unclear

First, can someone claim the California homestead exemption if they live in the house on the date the petition is filed, but move out after? What if they move out after the Chapter 7 bankruptcy is filed, but it’s just a temporary relocation?  Or what if the debtor who filed bankruptcy really has no intention to return?

The result is very fact-specific, and has had bankruptcy courts and appellate courts carefully examining the particulars for the debtor before filed, on the date the case was filed, and then after the case was filed. Let’s review a few significant cases in the Ninth Circuit to see how the courts have ruled.

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