Does someone owe you money, but claim they have no assets? Has that person moved assets or money out of their name, either before or after their debt to you came about? If so, Georgia’s Uniform Voidable Transactions Act (UVTA) may provide a solution. Here are five things that can help you determine if you have a claim under the UVTA.
- All types of creditors can benefit from the UVTA.
The provisions of the UVTA encompass most types of claims that a creditor can have. The UVTA defines a creditor as any “person who has a claim,” and a debtor as any “person who is liable on a claim.” A claim is simply a “right to payment.”
Your right to payment might be disputed or it could be certain. Your claim could be for a pre-determined amount or for an amount that has yet to be established., It doesn’t matter whether you are a secured creditor or an unsecured creditor. In fact, in many situations, you can bring a claim under the UVTA in the same court action where you seek confirmation of the debt owed to you.
2. The UVTA applies to a wide range of transactions.
The UVTA allows for creditors to “void” a debtor’s transfer of money or other assets to recover the money owed to the creditor. Assets are defined as the “property of a debtor,” and property is “anything that may be the subject of ownership.” Likewise, the UVTA defines “transfer” broadly to include almost any manner of conveying or disposing of an asset or an interest in an asset. Transfers include payments of money, releases, leases, and liens.
It is important to note that some transactions are not voidable. If the person to whom the asset was transferred took the asset “in good faith and for reasonably equivalent value,” then that transfer is likely not voidable. But some transfers that appear to be conducted in good faith or made for reasonably equivalent value, upon a closer look, may still be voidable. This often occurs when transfers are made to “insiders,” such as a relative or, if the debtor is a business, a director or officer of the business.
3. A transaction does not have to involve fraud for it to be voidable.
Because the UVTA was formerly known as the “Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act,” many people think fraud must be involved for a transfer to be voidable. But attempting to defraud a creditor is just one reason why a transfer might be voided.
Transfers can also be voided where the debtor conveyed the asset without receiving anything of reasonably equivalent value in exchange and the debtor either knew he would be incurring debts that he would not be able to pay, or the transfer left the debtor’s assets unreasonably small. There is also a subset of claims that can be brought by creditors whose claim existed before the debtor made the transfer, where the debtor did not receive anything of reasonably equivalent value and the transfer left the debtor insolvent.
4. In some cases, you can sue the person who received the transfer instead of the debtor.
If you already have a judgment in hand, depending upon the nature of the asset that was transferred, you may be able to sue the recipient of the asset directly without including the debtor in the suit. Certain types of transfers, such as transferring real estate by a deed, require suing both the debtor and the transferee. But other transfers, particularly monetary transfers, can be voided without the debtor’s involvement. If fraud is alleged, it may benefit the creditor to include both the debtor and the transferee in the suit, but it is not always necessary.
5. The UVTA provides a variety of remedies for creditors.
When a debtor’s transfer of assets is voidable, creditors have several different available remedies to help them recover the debt owed to them. The court may “undo” (or void) a transfer of money or other assets up to the amount necessary to satisfy the debt. A creditor may also be able to attach or garnish a transferred asset. If the creditor holds a judgment against the debtor, the court may allow the creditor to execute the judgment on the transferred asset. In some circumstances, creditors may be able to obtain an injunction to prevent the debtor from transferring any more of their assets, or the court may appoint a receiver to take charge of the transferred asset. The UVTA also provides for “[a]ny other relief the circumstances may require,” which gives courts great latitude in crafting an appropriate remedy for a creditor.
If you are a creditor who is owed a debt, you may benefit from the broad protections and remedies afforded by the UVTA. Contact us at (706)-354-4000 or fill out our contact form for help with your UVTA claim.