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In re Anderso

Supreme Court of North Dakota

August 22, 2019

In re: Michael Lee Anderson, Debtor Michael Lee Anderson, Plaintiff
v.
Kip M. Kaler, Bankruptcy Trustee, Defendant

          Certified question from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of North Dakota, the Honorable Shon Hastings, Bankruptcy Judge.

          Alan Sorensen, Winona, MN, (argued) and Sara E. Diaz, Fargo, ND (appeared), for debtor and plaintiff.

          Patrick J. Sinner (argued) and Kip M. Kaler (on brief), Fargo, ND, for defendant.

          OPINION

          Crothers, Justice.

         [¶1] The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of North Dakota asks whether a married debtor is entitled to an exemption up to $100, 000 for his undivided one-half interest in homestead property jointly owned with a nondebtor. We answer the certified question "yes."

         I

         A

         [¶2] The parties stipulated to the Bankruptcy Court's factual summary:

"Debtor Michael Lee Anderson petitioned for bankruptcy relief on June 19, 2018. On the same day, he filed a schedule of exempt assets, claiming an $81, 600 exemption in the following described real property under sections 28-22-02(7), 47-18-01 and 28-22-02(10) of the North Dakota Century Code:
Lot 10, Block 2 of Meidinger Second Addition to the
City of Jamestown, County of Stutsman, State of North
Dakota. The street address of this property is 1626 16th
Street Southwest, Jamestown, North Dakota. Debtor and his nondebtor spouse reside at the real property described above and claim it as their homestead. They own the property as joint tenants.
"On September 13, 2018, the Bankruptcy Trustee filed an objection to the homestead exemption [the] Debtor claimed. He asserts that Debtor improperly deducted the $100, 000 homestead exemption from Debtor's one-half interest in the property. He argues that Debtor must deduct the $100, 000 homestead exemption from the full value of the property less secured liens, resulting in $63, 200 in equity. The Trustee claims: 'Half that amount, or $31, 600, would remain as property of the debtor's wife and the balance would be ...

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