Fraudulent Transfer file

From UFTA to UVTA: California Fraudulent Transfers Legislation

John F. Bradley, Jr. Attorney at Law  Oct. 6, 2023

The Uniform Voidable Transactions Act (UVTA) stands as a pivotal piece of legislation for creditors operating within California's complex financial framework. It provides a clear set of guidelines to identify transactions that may be deemed voidable, safeguarding creditors from potential losses and ensuring fair play in the financial arena. By defining the boundaries of valid and voidable transactions, the UVTA equips creditors with the necessary tools to protect their claims and enforce their rights. Whether you're extending credit or collecting debts, a thorough understanding of the UVTA is a strategic advantage in California's competitive business landscape.

At my firm, John F. Bradley, Jr. Attorney at Law, my goal is to educate you about your options so that you can make informed decisions about your situation in the surrounding issues. If you’re in or around the San Jose or San Francisco Bay Area, I am here to help. Contact my firm today to schedule a meeting.  

The UVTA: An Overview 

Here's how the UVTA works: Let's say you're a business or an individual and someone owes you money. Instead of paying you, they transfer their assets to someone else to avoid paying. The UVTA's goal is to give you (as the creditor) the power to challenge these transfers and get back what you're owed. 

This Act doesn't just apply to transfers made with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud creditors. It also considers whether the debtor received a reasonably equivalent value in exchange for the transfer. If the debtor was insolvent at the time of the transfer or became insolvent as a result, the transfer can be deemed voidable under the UVTA. In other words, a transfer unfair to a creditor can be set aside or otherwise attacked to protect the creditor, even if the intent was innocent.

Some of the key provisions for the UVTA include: 

  • Badges of Fraud: The UVTA outlines specific factors that courts can consider as evidence of fraudulent intent. These include transfers to insiders, transfers of substantially all assets, and transfers that leave the debtor insolvent.  

  • Expanded Remedies: The UVTA provides creditors with a broad range of remedies, including the ability to obtain attorney's fees and costs in certain cases.  

  • Statute of Limitations: The basic statute of limitations under the UVTA is 4 years.  It can be as long as seven years, depending on the circumstances.

  • Defenses: The UVTA includes defenses that debtors can raise, such as the absence of fraudulent intent or the fair value of the transferred assets.  

  • Defining Insolvency: The UVTA defines insolvency, taking into account both the debtor's assets and the debtor's ability to pay debts as they come due.  

This law is crucial for creditors, debtors, and legal professionals to understand, as its provisions shape the way legitimate transactions may be protected and improper transactions may be attacked to protect creditors. 

Voidable Transactions 

A transaction becomes voidable when a debtor makes a transfer with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud any creditor of the debtor.  The UVTA provides a list of well known “badges of fraud” indicating fraudulent intent.  The list in the UVTA is not exclusive.

But there's more to it than that. Even if a debtor didn't have fraudulent intent, a transaction can still be voidable if the debtor didn't receive a reasonably equivalent value in exchange for the transfer and was insolvent at the time or became insolvent as a result of the transfer. 

It's also worth noting that the UVTA doesn't just apply to cash or property transfers. It covers obligations too. So if a debtor incurs an obligation (like taking on a loan) and the conditions mentioned above are met, that obligation could be voidable under the UVTA. 

One of the key elements in determining voidable transactions is the concept of insolvency. Under the UVTA, there are two tests for insolvency.  There is a balance sheet test where a debtor is considered insolvent if the sum of the debtor's debts is greater than all of the debtor's assets at a fair valuation. The other way of showing insolvency is from a cash-flow standpoint.  Is the debtor generally not paying their debts as they come due.

In essence, voidable transactions are a pivotal part of the UVTA. They serve as a protective measure for creditors, allowing them to challenge certain transactions and potentially recover claims. But they also require careful scrutiny to determine whether the conditions for a voidable transaction have been met. 

Dealing With Accusations of Concealing Assets 

If you're accused of hiding assets to hinder, delay, or defraud creditors, it's important to understand your rights and responsibilities under the Uniform Voidable Transaction Act (UVTA). First and foremost, remember that the law is equally keen on protecting a debtor's rights as it is on safeguarding a creditor's claims.  

If you find yourself in this situation, consider the following steps: 

  • Retain Legal Representation: A seasoned attorney can guide you through the complexities of the UVTA and help you muster the strongest possible defense. 

  • Gather and Prepare Documentation: Proving good faith in the transaction is essential. This can include evidence that you received a reasonably equivalent value in the transaction or that the transfer did not render you insolvent. 

  • Review the Timing of the Transaction: If you can show that the transfer was not made shortly before or after the debt was incurred, this could serve as a valid defense. 

Remember, accusations of asset concealment are serious, but a well-prepared defense can help protect your rights and interests. It's important to act swiftly and appropriately to address the issue. 

Time Limits and Debtor Location Under the UVTA 

Under the UVTA, the statute of limitations for a claim of relief concerning a voidable transfer is generally four years after the transfer was made or the obligation was incurred. It can be longer.  Some transfers that take place while a lawsuit is pending may be attacked within four years of when the judgment is entered.  Some transfers may be attacked within a year of when they are discovered or should have been discovered.  The outer limit, however, is seven years from when the transfer was made.  This extended timeline offers increased protection for creditors. 

In addition, the Act determines the debtor's location based on their principal residence or place of business. This provision plays a crucial role in cases where the debtor has multiple residences or conducts business in different locations. 

Trusted Legal Guidance  

At John F Bradley, Jr Attorney at Law, I can provide the knowledge and tools you need to make informed legal decisions. I will analyze the situation from your perspective and then research the details of the case. I will then use that information to build a strategy that aims at the outcome you desire.   

If you have encountered a fraudulent transfer issue and you are in San Jose, California, or the surrounding areas—including the entire San Francisco Bay area, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, and Alameda County—reach out today to discuss your situation with a trusted civil litigation attorney