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ROUSEY et ux. v. JACOWAY, 544 U.S. ---

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ROUSEY et ux. v. JACOWAY

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT

No. 03-1407.Argued December 1, 2004--Decided April 4, 2005

Several years after petitioners deposited distributions from their pension plans into Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), they filed a joint petition under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. They sought to shield portions of their IRAs from their creditors by claiming them as exempt from the bankruptcy estate under 11 U. S. C. §522(d)(10)(E), which provides, inter alia, that a debtor may withdraw from the estate his "right to receive ... a payment under a stock bonus, pension, profitsharing, annuity, or similar plan or contract on account of ... age." Respondent Jacoway, the Bankruptcy Trustee, objected to the Rouseys' exemption and moved for turnover of the IRAs to her. The Bankruptcy Court sustained her objection and granted her motion, and the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP) agreed. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that, even if the Rouseys' IRAs were "similar plans or contracts" to the plans specified in §522(d)(10)(E), their IRAs gave them no right to receive payment "on account of age," but were instead savings accounts readily accessible at any time for any purpose.

Held: The Rouseys can exempt IRA assets from the bankruptcy estate because the IRAs fulfill both of the §522(d)(10)(E) requirements at issue here--they confer a right to receive payment on account of age and they are similar plans or contracts to those enumerated in §522(d)(10)(E). Pp. 4-14.


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