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Summarizing by Lars Fuller

Morgan v. Regions Bank

Case Type:
Case Status:
20-20358 (5th Circuit, Mar 26,2021) Not Published
On the record before the Court, the Court was not left with a "firm and definite conviction" that the Bankruptcy Court erred in its denial of the homestead exemption.
Procedural context:
After debtor claimed a homestead exemption in one of two pieces of residential real property he owned, debtor's unsecured priority creditor challenged the exemption in the Bankruptcy Court. After an evidentiary hearing, the Bankruptcy Court found that debtor failed to meet his burden of proof in support of the exemption. Specifically, the Bankruptcy Court determined that the property identified as exempt was not debtor's primary residence and was not entitled to a homestead exemption. Debtor appealed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, which affirmed the Bankruptcy Court's ruling. Debtor appealed a second time to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed yet again, finding that debtor failed to meet his burden of proof through overt acts of homestead and that his intent to utilitze the property in the future as a homestead was insufficient to afford debtor a homestead exemption within the bankruptcy proceedings.
When debtor filed for bankruptcy, he owned two pieces of residential real property. He claimed a homestead exemption as to the residential real property that he purchased with his spouse but in which he lived only a few days before becoming separated. Debtor demonstrated that he may have moved some clothing and furniture into the home before the separation; however, following the separation, he visited only on occasion and may have conducted some business while at the property. He resided primarily in the second home that he owned when he filed his bankruptcy petition. Debtor claimed the second home as his primary residence for tax purposes for three consecutive years prior to filing his bankruptcy petition, and within his petition, he identified the second home as his primary residence.
King, Smith, and Haynes

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