Giuseppe has always been a religious man. He grew up as a member of the Church of Rock and has stayed very active in the religious community.

Giuseppe has always been a religious man. He grew up as a member of the Church of Rock and has stayed very active in the religious community. The Church is a qualified charitable entity in New Jersey that actively recruits young members to join the board of directors. Giuseppe is a successful attorney and he makes frequent donations to the church for all sorts of fundraising events.

In 2014, when Giovanni “accidentally” co-mingles his funds with a client’s funds, he is disbarred from the practice of law. He continues to make a little money lecturing on “bad legal practices,” but he cannot keep up the lifestyle he has come to know. He turns to the church for support and befriends Rosa, an elderly congregant who gives Giovanni hope that his life will turn around. When Rosa passes away in February 2017, she leaves Giuseppe a $45,000 inheritance. Grateful for her support and encouragement, and knowing that he would not have received this request without his continued church activities, he immediately donates $40,000 to the church.

In August of 2017, Giuseppe can no longer afford his home and he has substantial credit card debt and medical bills. He files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and hopes he can work out a fresh start. While the bankruptcy is underway, his Chapter 7 Trustee files a motion for summary judgment seeking to avoid the $40,000 donation, saying that this money should go to his creditors instead. Giuseppe is terribly upset and says that he has always donated to the church. He gives the Trustee a chart outlining his income and donation in years past.

 2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Church Donations

$56,000

$3,210

$2,018

$1,312

$44,650

Income

$622,222

$80,250

$33,633

$26,240

$48,720

Donations as a percent of income

9%

4%

6%

5%

92%

Who is entitled to this $40,000? Will the church be allowed to keep the money? Why or why not? Please use the appropriate statutory law and case law to support your opinion.

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