So this is the fourth in my expected five-part series on fraudulent transfers. In previous blogs, I laid out the basic statutory framework regarding fraudulent transfers, as well as a described generally the difference between actual and constructively fraudulent transfers (Part 1). In Part 2, we took a detailed look at the elements of a fraudulent transfer under both the Bankruptcy Code as well as Texas law. In Part 3, we took a deeper dive into the badges of fraud that courts use to analyze the existence of actual fraudulent intent. In this 4th part, we will take a more detailed look at insolvency.
The insolvency analysis is unique in that insolvency is both a badge of fraud as it relates to an actual fraudulent transfer, as well as a required element of a constructive fraudulent transfer under both the Bankruptcy Code and the Texas Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (“TUFTA”). The statutory frameworks are similar, but the language of each is analyzed hereinbelow.
Texas Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (TUFTA)
Under TUFTA, Tex. Bus. & Comm. C. §24.005(b) includes as one of the 11 enumerated badges of fraud under an “actual fraud” analysis the following “badge”: “(9) the debtor was insolvent or became insolvent shortly after the transfer was made or the obligation was incurred”. Tex. Bus. & Comm. C. §24.005(b)(9)
As to constructive fraud, Section 24.006 goes on to provide as follows:
Sec. 24.006. TRANSFERS FRAUDULENT AS TO PRESENT CREDITORS.
Tex. Bus. & Comm. C. §24.003 defines “Insolvency”:
Sec. 24.003. INSOLVENCY.
As noted in Part 3 of this series, the Bankruptcy Code does not enumerate badges of fraud in the statute creating a cause of action for an actual fraudulent transfer. See 11 U.S.C. §548(a)(1)(A). However, the Fifth Circuit has recognized as one badge of fraud the financial condition of the debtor both before and after the transaction in question (most circuits have some form of a badge of fraud related to insolvency or the financial condition of the debtor). Note, however, that despite the fact that insolvency is one badge of fraud, numerous courts consider it to be the “least probative” badge of fraud given that it is present in the majority of bankruptcy cases. See, e.g., Yaquinto v. CBS Radio, et al., Adv. Proc. No. 19-03226-sgj (Bankr. N.D. Tex., July 13, 2022)
As to constructively fraudulent transfers under the Bankruptcy Code, 11 U.S.C. §548(a)(1)(B) provides that a transfer by the debtor is constructively fraudulent if the debtor:
In relevant part, the Bankruptcy Code defines “insolvent” in 11 U.S.C. §101(32) to mean:
. . .
In making an insolvency analysis, property that is exempted under the Bankruptcy Code (i.e., property that a debtor gets to keep and is therefore not subject to the claims of creditors) is not included as an asset in determining whether the debtor’s debts exceed their assets. A similar exclusion is found under TUFTA, where it defines “asset” to exclude “property to the extent it is generally exempt under nonbankruptcy law.” See Tex. Bus. & Comm. C. §24.002(2).
It is important to note that an insolvency analysis must be made with respect to every transaction at issue. Therefore, simply because a plaintiff establishes that a debtor was insolvent as to one transaction does not mean that such plaintiff has satisfied their burden as to other transactions.
Another important point of analysis is to ensure that only debts of the debtor are included as part of the insolvency analysis. This might seem obvious, but creditors will frequently attempt to add debts of a business owned by the debtor to an insolvency analysis of the debtor, which is improper and should be noted to the finder of fact.
In our next and last installment, we will focus more on the relative burdens of proof applicable to fraudulent transfer suits.
See more »
DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.
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