In re Trevino (96 B.R. 608, No. 88-02778-SN7)

Before the court were objections to the debtors' claim of exemptions. Of particular note, the debtors claimed in an exemption in a 1987 Ford F250 truck as a tool of trade under NCGS § 1C-1601(a)(5), which provides for exemption of "implements, professional books, or tools of the trade." The male debtor used the otherwise normal truck in the business of boat hauling, as well as for personal matters. The court adopted the view held by courts in other states "that a motor vehicle cannot qualify for the tool of the trade exemption, at least when that motor vehicle is not specially outfitted for the debtor's trade." The debtor was not allowed to exempt his truck as a tool of trade.

The debtors also attempted to claim a horse trailer as exempt under either the motor vehicle exemption of NCGS § 1C-1601(a)(3) or the household goods exemption of NCGS § 1C-1601(a)(4). While a horse trailer fits the definition of a motor vehicle for purposes of the North Carolina Motor Vehicle statutes (Chapter 20, NCGS), the court found that definition to be unpersuasive in the context of a Chapter 1C exemption claim. The court also held it to be a "strained reading" to consider a horse trailer a household good. The trustee's objection to both of these exemptions was sustained.

The debtors also transferred pre-petition $1,800 and a trailer to the father of one of the debtors. While the trustee had not yet sought to avoid the transfers as preferential, the debtors wished to exempt the value of the transfers, citing to section 522(g) of the bankruptcy code. The court held that 522(g) had no application to voluntary pre-petition transfers, and hence could not be used to exempt the recovery of the potential transfer. The court notes that "[i]n enacting § 522(g) and (h), Congress appears to have been taking the view that debtors should not be permitted to exempt property which they had already willingly given up."

Chapter 7
Full Text Source:
In re Trevino, 96 B.R. 608 (Bankr. E.D.N.C. 1989)
Case Number: 
Reporter Citation: 
96 B.R. 608
Decision Date: 
Tuesday, February 14th 1989
Bankr. E.D.N.C.
A. Thomas Small
Google Scholar: 
Primary Holding: 
construing the NC tools of trade and motor vehicle exemptions
Share this page:

This case reference and summary is made available for educational and informational purposes only and to promote a general understanding of the law, and not to provide specific legal advice. No representation is made regarding the currentness of the information contained in this post. All readers should conduct independent inquiry into the legal significance of the referenced decision and into the possibility of subsequent conflicting caselaw. Unless otherwise stated, the author(s) of the summary did not represent any parties in the case.