In re Holt (05-71016)

Chapter 7 Trustee filed an objection to the claimed exemptions by Debtors in a singlewide mobile home (“Singlewide”) and in real property on which a block house was constructed. Debtors claimed the exemption under O.C.G.A. § 44-13-100(a)(1), Georgia’s opt-out homestead exemption statute. Debtors argued that their equity interest in the Singlewide could be exempted under O.C.G.A. § 44-13-100(a)(1) since their 22 year-old daughter and minor grandson occupied the Singlewide at the time Debtors’ bankruptcy petition was filed. Debtors claimed that their daughter and grandson were “dependent” for purposes of the homestead exemption statute. The evidence at the hearing revealed that Debtors had claimed their daughter and grandson as “dependents” on their 2005 income tax returns and that the daughter and grandson did, in fact, occupy the Singlewide at the time Debtors’ petition was filed. With regard to the Singlewide, the Court found that the Trustee did not present evidence sufficient to prove that Debtors’ daughter and grandson were not dependents of Debtors for purposes of O.C.G.A. § 44-13-100(a)(1). Therefore, the claim of exemption in the Singlewide was proper since the Singlewide was the residence of Debtors or their dependents. As to the block house property, however, the Court found that there was no legal basis for exempting the equity interest in a rental property owned by a debtor just because that property was located contiguous to the homestead or residence of the debtors. The Court, therefore, sustained the objection of the Trustee as to the claim of exemption in the block house property.

Friday, December 22, 2006