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Bankruptcy Court For The Northern District Of Ohio Holds That The Ohio Homestead Exemption Applies Only To Parcel Of Land Upon Which Residence Is Situated

The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio recently held that under Ohio law, the homestead exemption set forth in Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2329.66 applies to contiguous parcels of land only if those parcels are used for a single purpose as the debtor’s homestead.  In re Whitney, 459 B.R. 72 (Bankr. N.D. Ohio 2011).

The Whitney debtors filed a homestead claimed a homestead exemption in their Chapter 7 petition that covered one parcel of land on which the debtors’ residence was situated and one vacant parcel of land.  The Trustee objected to the exemption.

Ohio’s homestead exemption provides:

(A) Every person who is domiciled in this state may hold property exempt from execution, garnishment, attachment, or sale to satisfy a judgment or order, as follows:

            …

(b) In the case of all other judgments and orders, the person’s interest, not to exceed twenty thousand two hundred dollars, in one parcel or item of real or personal property that the person or a dependent of the person uses as a residence.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2329.66(A)(1)(b).

The Court noted that the homestead exemption could not be applied to both of the debtors’ parcels.  Under Ohio law, the exemption was limited to just “one parcel” of property and “parcel,” in its normal legal useage, denotes just one “contiguous quantity of land in possession of, owned by, or recorded as property of the same person.”  The debtors failed to present any evidence that they occupied and used the two parcels for a single purpose as their homestead, and the only evidence they did provide showed that their residence sat on only one parcel.

Accordingly, the court sustained the Trustee’s objection to the debtors’ exemption.

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Attorney Spotlight

Courtney Rogers Perrin practices in the Nashville office as a member of the Firm’s Electronic Payments and Blockchain practice groups. She assists clients with regulatory compliance, contract negotiations, acquisitions and fund formation relating to credit card processing and fintech enterprises, including smart contracts and virtual currency matters.

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