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Look to the States: How the State-Specific Interpretation Clarifies BAPCPA’s § 522 Ambiguity and Protects State Exemption Laws

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ABSTRACT: After Congress revised the Bankruptcy Code in 2005, courts have taken divergent views about how to apply 11 U.S.C. § 522 in relation to state exemptions. Three main interpretations have developed: anti- extraterritoriality, preemption, and state-specific. This Note advocates the state-specific approach, as it prevents forum shopping without rendering state exemption laws void or futile. The state-specific view requires courts to consider both state case law and public policy. When state statutes remain silent, courts applying the state-specific interpretation should liberally construe the exemption statutes in favor of the debtor and allow extraterritorial application.

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