Can the trustee take half of the money in the account to satisfy my spouse's debts? 21 Answers as of February 14, 2014

I have been separated (but not divorced) for 2 years. Husband filing for bankruptcy. All the debts he has accumulated are in his name only. I am relatively debt free. However, we still have one investment account that is jointly held. Can the trustee take half of the money in that account to satisfy his debts? How can I protect myself from this?

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Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis
Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis | Eric Lewis
It depends on the law of the state in which you are filing bankruptcy and the exemptions available to you when you file.
Answer Applies to: Indiana
Replied: 2/14/2014
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
You might have a "claim of exemption" in that account. Each state has different exemption statutes, so your 1/2 could be protected that way. Another way - if it is a community property states, is that you own that 1/2, not him. The trustee can only get what he owns. If the trustee makes noise about it, get a lawyer asap.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 2/6/2014
Stephens Gourley & Bywater | David A. Stephens
If it is not an exempt asset, he can probably take one-half of it unless your husband states that the asset is all yours.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 2/3/2014
Law Office of Shawn N. Wright | Shawn N. Wright
Sorry, but I don't know enough of the facts. How much is in the investment account? That's the main question I would ask. If you're in Pennsylvania, then your husband might be using the Pennsylvania exemptions, and if so, then he could possibly protect an unlimited amount of these funds. In any event, I simply don't know enough about your situation to ask. You should contact an attorney to inquire about this.
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 2/3/2014
Meister & McCracken Law Firm, PLLC | Joanne M. McCracken
Short answer if your husband's name is on the account, the trustee can take half of the account. However, you should consult a qualified bankruptcy attorney because you may have some defenses.
Answer Applies to: Arkansas
Replied: 2/3/2014
    Stuart P Gelberg
    Stuart P Gelberg | Stuart P Gelberg
    There is a presumption that money in a joint acct is 50/50. The presumption can be overcome either way (100/0 or 0/100).
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 2/3/2014
    GARCIA & GONZALES, P.C. | Richard N. Gonzales
    Trustee can only take your husband's portion of the account to satisfy his obligations. They can not touch your one-half interest in the account. In Colorado, this "investment account" is not protected, but again, the Trustee can only obtain your husband's interest in that account.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 2/3/2014
    Garner Law Office
    Garner Law Office | Daniel Garner
    Unfortunately, if this is a joint asset, it is part of the bankrupt estate. If you can possibly withdraw your half now, you should do so or the entire account will be off-limits to you. If you withdraw your share, the trustee would have to sue you to recover it and s/he may determine it's not worth it if your husband's half is still available. Alternatively, if you are still on speaking terms with your husband, you should take a look at whether he can exempt the account under one of the applicable federal or state exemptions and protect you both.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 2/3/2014
    Law Office of Lynnmarie A. Johnson
    Law Office of Lynnmarie A. Johnson | Lynnmarie Johnson
    Unless you can show that every penny in the account is your, yes they will take 50%, if he files a Ch. 7, they will generally take 50% even if it is all you money. It happens all the time, mom puts daughter's name on account just in case she needs to help mom out, and the trustee/ or judgment creditor garnishes it all.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/3/2014
    A Fresh Start
    A Fresh Start | Dorothy G Bunce
    If this asset isn't protected by a state exemption, if you own it with your spouse, half of it can belong to the bankruptcy trustee and be used to pay his debts. In addition, as Nevada is a community property state, half of all your other stuff belongs to the bankruptcy estate as well. Better see a lawyer to discuss how you can prevent losing a lot more than just one investment.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 2/3/2014
    MCBRIDE LAW OFFICE | Robert E. McBride
    It depends. If your husband successfully claims his interest in the joint account exempt, the trustee in his bankruptcy case will not take his interest. On the other hand, if your husband cannot/does not claim his interest exempt, the trustee may take it. Is there any advantage or benefit to you that results from keeping your money in the joint account? If not, withdraw your share and deposit it in your name only.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 2/3/2014
    Patrick W. Currin, Attorney at Law | Patrick Currin
    You should be noticed on the case. You can look and see whether the joint account is exempt in the bankruptcy or not.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/3/2014 | Rustin Polk
    How the bankruptcy trustee might treat that account will depend on what kind of bankruptcy your husband filed (Chapter 7, Chapter 13, Chapter 11, etc) as well as which set of exemptions your husband is using in the bankruptcy case.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 2/3/2014
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    If you live in a community property state, assets of the bankruptcy estate include assets owned by both spouses, even if only one spouse is filing bankruptcy. If the bankruptcy Debtor cannot claim an exemption for the property, it is subject to be taken by the bankruptcy trustee.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/3/2014
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    The trustee can take all of the money if it is community property to pay his debts. You should really seek legal advice. Finalizing your divorce and having the account awarded to you could protect you. Also, he can protect it in his bankruptcy case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/3/2014
    Law Offices of Daniel J Winter
    Law Offices of Daniel J Winter | Daniel J Winter
    Generally, yes, the trustee can look to all assets that are your husband's, to satisfy his debts. You should have your husband consult with a bankruptcy attorney to discuss how much he can protect, and what the best plan would be. Also, if you were to get divorced, and the divorce court divided the assets, and you got some part of them, you could protect them. You both should get some legal advice.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 2/3/2014
    Law Offices of Linda Rose Fessler | Linda Fessler
    You can take your half out of the account or speak with trustee.Second point, get a divorce. If his debts were accumulated after marriage the creditors could still come after you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/3/2014
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