These summaries of case decisions are intended for informational purposes only. They are not intended to be interpretations of the law, nor do they encompass the subtleties of each case. Therefore, reference to the original text is indispensable.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Roberta A. Boyle v. Steven Weiss, trustee in Bankruptcy

Supreme Judicial Court    February 16th, 2012

Facts: The Westview Realty Trust holds the title of a property on Westview Road, which consists of land and a house, in Lowell, Massachusetts. Robert and Janet Boyle conveyed the property to one of their daughters, Maria A. Boyle as a trustee of the Trust. Robert Boyle and one of his daughters, Roberta Boyle, who is the debtor, each hold fifty percent of the beneficial interest in the Trust. The trust instrument gives the trustee full power and authority to buy, deal and manage real estate. The debtor has lived in the house at the property as a tenant at will of the trust. In 2010, she voluntarily filed petition for relief under Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. The debtor wanted to claim a homestead exemption based on 11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3) in Schedule C The bankruptcy trustee objected to the claim.

Issue #1: Whether or not the debtor can claim a homestead exemption for property in which she resided under former version of Homestead Act that was in effect when the debtor’s declaration of trust was recorded.

No because the debtor does not direct or control the trustee despite the fact that she used the Lowell property as her home and owned fifty percent beneficial interest in the trust which holds the title to the property. Under these circumstances, she did not fit under the definition of owner under the 2004 act. (LP)