In the recent case of Tarlesson v. Broadway Foreclosure Investments, LLC (May 17, 2010), the California Court of Appeal upheld a debtor's homestead exemption despite the fact that she had deeded away the property at one point because it was deeded back to her.
It appears that the creditor attempted to have a judicial foreclosure or otherwise levy debtor's residence. Debtor claimed a $150k exemption in the home (pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure 704.740 and Article XX, section 1.5 of the California Constitution) and creditor objected on the grounds that Debtor had not owned the property continuously.
The Court upheld earlier precedent that since the debtor had continuously resided at the property, that was a sufficient equitable interest to claim a homestead exemption.
Additionally, the creditor argued that debtor should have only been entitled to $50k for her exemption, but the debtor gave evidence (a declaration) that she was single, over age 55, and earned less than $15k/yr to qualify her to a larger homestead exemption.
What is interesting about this case is that although the court looked at the "equitable" interest that debtor had in the property, there was no discussion of whether she had unclean hands or engaged in otherwise inequitable conduct in deeding her property back and forth.