Fort Lauderdale Bare Legal Title Decision on Real Estate

I successfully represented the debtor in a Fort Lauderdale chapter 13 involving the debtor’s claim that real estate was owned by the debtor merely as bare legal title.     In re Pengos, Case No. 14-13586 DE 64. (Southern District of Florida)

Judge Raymond B. Ray held that based on the facts of this case, the debtor who was on the title to real estate only held an interest as bare legal title (so the debtor did not have to include the value of the property in her chapter 13 plan payments).  We submitted clear and convincing evidence that the debtor never had any interest or contributed any funds towards the property.  The debtor merely bought the property in her name to obtain a mortgage while her mother, who was moving to this property, sold  her home and used her funds to payoff the mortgage obtained by the debtor on the the new residence. The debtor never resided in the property.

But it is important to note that there is a split on this issue in the Southern District of Florida.   Some of the other judges likely would reject any argument as to bare legal title and would find that the deed controls.  Also, Judge Ray did observe that no creditor objected and the chapter 13 trustee did not strenuously object. 

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