Trustee Steps into Shoes of Lienholder upon Avoidance of Lien

Posted by NCBRC - July 26, 2013

NCBRC filed an amicus brief on behalf of the NACBA membership in the case of In re Traverse, 13-9002 (1st Cir. July 10, 2013). In that case, when the chapter 7 debtor entered into bankruptcy, she sought to exempt her home from the estate and continue making her mortgage payments. It was undisputed that the debtor was not in default on her mortgages. The trustee, however, successfully avoided one of the liens as unperfected and sought to sell the debtor’s residence for the benefit of creditors. The lower courts found that, having avoided the lien, the trustee stood in the shoes of the debtor and had the power to sell the property.

In its amicus brief before the First Circuit, NACBA argues that application of Bankruptcy Code sections 704, 541(a), 551, and 544, demonstrates that upon avoidance and preservation of a lien the trustee stands in the shoes of the former lienholder, not the debtor. Therefore, the trustee did not gain the power to sell the property except to the extent that the lienholder would have had that power. See In re Trout, 609 F.3d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 2010) (“under § 551 the trustee steps into the shoes of the former lienholder, with the same rights in the collateralized property that the original lienholder enjoyed.”).  Because the debtor was current on her payments, under state law, there was no default to trigger the right to foreclose.

Thanks to Ray DiGuiseppe for authoring NACBA’s brief.

Traverse NACBA amicus



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