The Ninth Circuit Reviews Whether an Exemption of “100% of FMV” Protects the Entire Value of the Property Including any Post-Petition Appreciation

Posted by JIm Haller - September 19, 2023

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is considering whether an exemption of “100% of FMV” protects all the equity in the property, over and above the allowable exemption, and any appreciation in value post-petition.  The Ninth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel reversed the bankruptcy court and found that an exemption claim of “100% of FMV” included the entire value of the property, not the allowable exemption. Further, the court held that this exemption claim included any post-petition appreciation because there was no objection to the exemption.  Masingale v. Munding, 644 B.R. 530 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 2022).  The BAP held:

“Monte L. Masingale and Rosana D. Masingale filed a chapter 11 bankruptcy petition and claimed a “100% of FMV [fair market value]” exemption in their homestead. No one objected. Years later, the bankruptcy court converted the case to chapter 7. Mrs. Masingale and the chapter 7 trustee disputed the amount of the homestead exemption to which Mrs. Masingale was entitled: the chapter 7 trustee argued that she was bound by the statutory limit under § 522(d)(1), but Mrs. Masingale contended that she was entitled to the entire fair market value of the property, because no one had objected to the claimed homestead exemption. The bankruptcy court agreed with the chapter 7 trustee and approved his request to sell the property, limiting the homestead exemption to $45,950.

“Mrs. Masingale appeals, arguing that the bankruptcy court erred in determining the amount of the homestead exemption. We agree with Mrs. Masingale. We REVERSE the portions of the order on appeal that determine the amount of the homestead exemption and REMAND. We publish to explain the effect of a “100% of FMV” exemption claim and to reiterate that parties must timely object to any improper exemption claim, no matter how frivolous. …

“As a matter of first impression, we hold that the Masingales’ claim of an exemption equal to “100% of FMV” includes postpetition appreciation and becomes incontestable if there is no timely objection. The snapshot rule is one of the limits on a debtor’s entitlement to exemptions. Taylor holds that, if no one objects, the debtor can get the benefit of exemptions to which the debtor is not entitled. In other words, in order to get the benefit of the snapshot rule, a trustee or party in interest must object to an exemption claim that contradicts that rule.”

The case is tentatively set for oral argument in early December 2023.

Appellant Trustee Munding Brief

Appellee Masingale Brief

NCBRC Amicus Brief In Support of Appellee – Masingale

Appellant Trustee Munding Reply Brief

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