Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Recovers $258,983

Source: Montana Law Week

Morgan Stanley recovered a $258,983.72 judgment against Paul Stafford in 8/15 in Billings Federal Court for a loan he had not repaid. Stafford requested a Hearing on Claimed Exemptions — $6,200.31 in an HSA at First Interstate Bank. The issue is whether an HSA is exempt from execution under §25-13-608(1)(f):
A judgment debtor is entitled to exemption from execution of the following:
(f) Benefits payable for medical, surgical, or hospital care to the extent they are                      used or will be used to pay for the care;

It is clear that this section does not specifically exempt HSAs. If the Legislature intended them to be exempt, it could have put them in the law. Further, while HSAs may be used for medical, surgical, or hospital care, they are not required to be used for those purposes; they may be used to pay for long-term care insurance or for health insurance if the person is receiving unemployment comp. 26 USC §223(d)(2)(C)(ii). Most importantly, they may be used for non-medical purposes, although subject to a 20% tax. 223(f)(4)(A). Primarily due to this last exemption, the Court does not find that 25-13-608(1)(f) exempts HSAs from execution. Although a penalty may be imposed, they may be used for non-medical purposes. This fact, coupled with the fact that the Legislature has not specifically exempted HSAs, leads to the conclusion that they are subject to execution. Morgan Stanley’s writ of execution on the $6,200.31 in Stafford’s HSA is allowed.

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